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Call for Global Crackdown on Fake Medicines

Health & Wellness  (tags: abuse, children, disease, healthcare, health, government, drugs, ethics, medicine, prevention, protection, risks, safety, science, society, treatment, warning, investigation )

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A global treaty to crack down on the deadly trade of fake medicines is urgently needed, say experts.

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JL A (282)
Friday November 16, 2012, 12:53 pm
Call for global crackdown on fake medicines
By Michelle Roberts Health editor, BBC News online
Counterfeit Viagra Counterfeit drugs may contain harmful ingredients or no active ingredient at all

A global treaty to crack down on the deadly trade of fake medicines is urgently needed, say experts.

Currently, there are more sanctions around the use of illegal tobacco than counterfeit drugs.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, experts urge the World Health Organization to set up a framework akin to its one tobacco control to safeguard the public.

WHO says more than one in every 10 drug products in poorer nations are fake.

A third of malaria drugs are counterfeit, research suggests.

In richer countries, medicine safety is better, but substandard and falsified drugs still cause thousands of adverse reactions and some deaths.

Recently, in the US, contaminated drug supplies caused an outbreak of meningitis that has so far killed 16 people.
Global problem

Amir Attaran and colleagues from the World Federation of Public Health Associations, International Pharmaceutical Federation and the International Council of Nurses, say while governments and drug companies alike deplore unsafe medicines, it is difficult to achieve agreement on action because discussions too often trespass into conflict-prone areas such as pharmaceutical pricing or intellectual property rights.
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In Canada we have seen a fake version of the heart drug Avastin come into the country that contains no active drug, just starch and nail polish remover”

Report author Amir Attaran

Although some countries prohibit fake medicines under national law, there is no global treaty which means organised criminals can continue to trade using haven countries where laws are lax or absent.

WHO estimates nearly a third of countries have little or no medicine regulation.

In other contexts, global treaties have helped governments strengthen their laws and cooperate internationally to clamp down on havens - for example, on money laundering.

Similarly, a new protocol under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control requires tobacco products to be tracked and criminalises illicit trade globally - "oddly making the law tougher on cigarette falsification than on medicine falsification", says Amir Attaran.

"The protocol will now make it a requirement to track and trace tobacco products. Cigarette packets can carry serial numbers so it is possible to track them from beginning to end.

"If this is something you can do for a $5 cigarette packet I do not see why we can't do it for a $3,000 packet of drugs that could save your life.

"In Canada we have seen a fake version of the heart drug Avastin come into the country that contains no active drug, just starch and nail polish remover.

"When you are dealing with a medicine like that if there was a serial number on it you would be able to easily see if it was fake."

WHO says it provides direct country and regional support for strengthening medicines regulation.

And it is up to its 194 member states to decide if a treaty is the way forward.

In 2011, a directive to protect patients from fake medicines was approved by the European Parliament.

JL A (282)
Friday November 16, 2012, 3:01 pm
That is something to watch out for--although given independent tests showing how many supplements do not include ingredients as labeled and contained contaminants, something more might help the public's health if overkill could be avoided. You cannot currently send a star to Robert because you have done so within the last week.

Robert S (111)
Friday November 16, 2012, 3:16 pm
A gift, for those for those who might like to make their own.

We often do.

. (0)
Friday November 16, 2012, 5:04 pm
Thank you.

Kit B (276)
Friday November 16, 2012, 5:13 pm

I wonder just how any one could know if the pharmacy were to fill a prescription with FAKE drugs? I guess it could be done, and with all use of generics who would know? I remember there once was an agency in the US government that was to protect us from this....what was that acronym? Was it the FDA? Seems so long ago....

(sarcasm intended)

JL A (282)
Friday November 16, 2012, 11:27 pm
You cannot currently send a star to natalie because you have done so within the last week.

David C (151)
Sunday November 18, 2012, 11:03 am

JL A (282)
Sunday November 18, 2012, 11:08 am
You are welcome Dave.

Joanne Dixon (38)
Sunday November 18, 2012, 1:06 pm
Like Robert S I have a concern. Mine is that I don't want this meningitis incident and this proposed legislation to harm genuine compounding pharmacies. The meningitis-bearing fakes were falsely claimed to have come from a compounding pharmacy. And I also agree with Robert S/ The problem is, Big Pharma is, an has been for years, out to get both. Without major citizen action, neither would be around today.

JL A (282)
Sunday November 18, 2012, 1:15 pm
Thanks for adding to the list of things to watch out for Joanne!You cannot currently send a star to Joanne because you have done so within the last week.

Lois Jordan (63)
Sunday November 18, 2012, 2:39 pm
Noted. 60 Minutes did a segment on this awhile back and focused on those who had died because the medicine they purchased with a prescription for many years suddenly poisoned them. It tracked where these fake meds were manufactured. While rightwing GOP'ers call for less regulation, this absolutely shows that we not only need better regulation, we need much more funding for oversight and accountability.

JL A (282)
Sunday November 18, 2012, 2:58 pm
Thanks for sharing the gist of 60 Minutes' investigation Lois and the added context! You cannot currently send a star to Lois because you have done so within the last week.

Darlene W (303)
Sunday November 18, 2012, 3:12 pm
Just another way for some to make money-so called government needs to crack down on many more assinine crappers in this country including themselves--sad what is done at the expense of the people.

Past Member (0)
Tuesday November 20, 2012, 4:23 am

JL A (282)
Tuesday November 20, 2012, 9:48 am
You are welcome John.

Helle H (21)
Tuesday November 20, 2012, 4:31 pm

Elizabeth Pugliese (8)
Thursday November 22, 2012, 8:06 am
This is what is called a "no brainer."
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