IFPMA's 10 principles on counterfeiting refocus attention on a growing threat to pharma

May 26, 2010
Pharmaceutical Commerce, Pharmaceutical Commerce - May/June 2010,

Principles are response to new data showing counterfeiting on the rise

The number of counterfeit incidents worldwide rose almost 7% last year, to 1,693 incidents, according to new data gathered by the Pharmaceutical Security Institute (PSI; Vienna, VA). Among anti-infectives medicines, incidents involving counterfeiting increased almost 50% over the previous year.

The numbers are cause for concern—and action, according to the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA; Geneva, Switzerland), which recently developed 10 principles on counterfeit medicines. The organization says the principles will help refocus attention on this global issue.

Unfortunately, the principles don’t offer much in terms of solutions to the counterfeiting problem. IFPMA’s principles call for stricter boarder measures, leadership of the World Health Organization and its International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce, and engagement from government regulatory and enforcement authorities. But they fall short of exploring any concrete solutions.

Another key takeaway from the IFPMA’s principles is that counterfeiting is ultimately a crime against patients. “By deliberately and deceitfully attempting to pass themselves off as something that they are not, namely, genuine approved medicines, counterfeit medicines pose a global public health risk, leading to resistance to treatment, illness, disability and even death,” IFPMA explains.

Thomas Kubric, CEO of PSI, fears that counterfeiting, which he says is common now among anti-malarial treatments in Africa, is spreading to other classes of medicine, including cancer therapies and medications for heart disease. “Criminal gangs engaged in the manufacture, distribution and sale of counterfeit medicines are now copying other life-saving treatments.”

Download IFPMA’s 10 Principles on Counterfeit Medicines.