Counterfeit Medicines Causing Global Concern

Counterfeit Medicines Causing Global ConcernCounterfeit Medicines Causing Global Concern

Pakistan and Turkey contribute most to the counterfeit medicine trade in the Middle East, and Iran’s geographical location as a neighbor of the two main trafficking states, raises concern over illegal entry of spurious medicines into the country, said Mehdi Pirsalehi, director general of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

He was addressing a conference on drug trafficking and counterfeit medicines in Tehran on Thursday, attended by representatives of the Sanofi Aventis Group, a French multinational pharmaceutical company with headquarters in Paris, and officials of the FDA.

Nearly 60% of counterfeit medicine is found in developing countries while 40% is attributed to developed nations, imposing serious risks globally, he said, IRNA reported.

Although many measures to prevent counterfeit drugs have been taken, more attention should be paid to verify the origins of fake medicines and monitor the distribution channels, he said.

Pirsalehi pointed to the strict supervision of state-owned pharmacies in the country. The pharmacies are inspected four times annually and it is found that 95% of the fake drugs originate from non-government pharmacies.

As part of the preventive measures on spurious drugs a “unique coding” plan is underway, by which all medicines will be labeled with an official code. Buyers can ensure authenticity of medicines by sending the verification code via SMS and get a response prior to the purchase.  Public cooperation in this regard is necessary.

Moreover, medicine shortages must be reduced to prevent smuggling of counterfeit drugs, he said.

Global statistics show that 8.5% of counterfeit medicines are toxic. FDA is giving priority in eliminating fake medicines, he added.  

Chief Security Officer at Sanofi Aventis Group, Edmond D’arvieu, expressed concern over the global scale of counterfeit medicine and said, “Unfortunately 70-80% of counterfeit medicines are purchased via the Internet.”

Counterfeit medicines on cyberspace are falsely displayed with labels of industrialized states.  There should be a campaign to counter sales of spurious medicines on social networks to prevent the spread of counterfeit drugs.

He also pointed to customs officials “having little or no supervision on imported drugs.” The technology of “coding” should be integrated in the customs administration to help authenticate medicines, he added.

Germany has tough control policies while Latin America, Central America and Australia are at the highest risk of counterfeit medicines.