Wednesday 7 April 2010

Darren Olivier

Analysing alternative methods to fighting fake drugs

Julian Harris at International Policy Network responds to some points in the Now Lebanon article (see previous past here and commentary (thank you Paul and Graham) here) which postulates various alternative methods for fighting fake drugs:

"Firstly, implementing a state-run healthcare system is not a way of reducing levels of counterfeit medicines. The Member of Parliament’s rather bizarre comparison between France and ‘Africa’ would be amusing if it wasn’t so dangerously misleading. One could just as easily look at the situation in the USA, where there is no universal healthcare system (as yet) and extremely low levels of counterfeit medicines.

Environments with high levels of fake drugs are characterised by weak trademark protection, slow or politically-influenced courts, and high corruption. Associating the problem with tangential issues such as a lack of ‘social’ healthcare should not be done without considerable supporting evidence.

Of the solutions presented in the article, the most promising is the (voluntary) adoption by private companies of new technologies. These technologies can preserve the identity of their products, guaranteeing to patients that they’re purchasing the real thing. The growth of such technologies is to be welcomed, especially in areas where protecting IP is extremely difficult.

Holograms, however, are not a particularly advanced technology and have already been faked for use on counterfeit medicines.

Sadly an increase in levels of inspectors is not necessarily a solution. In India, to take one example, there are cases of inspectors taking bribes and even conspiring in the provision of fake drugs to public hospitals. A recently-exposed drug racket in Chennai has partially been blamed on drug inspectors exploiting their positions. In many countries, increasing regulation of this kind simply increases the scope for corruption and illicit counterfeits dealing.


Piyush Diwan, 14th December 2008,
"Presence of flourishing fake medicine racket in Orissa confirmed by Vigilance reports”,

Why watchdogs failed to bark”, 27th March 2010"

It seems as if we are back to effective IP (and its enforcement) as a crucial part of the solution. All the more reason to get that Kenyan definition to work but is that what the Kenyan constitutional case is all about? Court papers and/or further comment would be welcome.
For more posts on this complex, intriquing and important debate click here.

Darren Olivier

Darren Olivier

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15 April 2010 at 11:08 delete

Spicy IP has responded to this article. See the link below

26 April 2010 at 15:06 delete

Strange - that isn't a response to this article, it's a blog post from back in January.