(6 June – Lyon, FRANCE): EFPIA, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, is pleased to join INTERPOL in promoting awareness on the dangers of counterfeit medicines. The exchange featured INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble and took place following an Anti-Counterfeiting Workshop hosted by EFPIA during the same week as World Anti-Counterfeiting Day.
Taking place in Lyon during the EFPIA Annual General Meeting, the EFPIA workshop emphasised the dangers of counterfeit medicines and demonstrated possible solutions in the form of the European Stakeholder Model, broader endorsement and ratification of the MEDICRIME Convention, and increased cooperation to combat the growth in counterfeit drug trade via the Internet. EFPIA is setting up the European Stakeholder Model (ESM) in the context of the implementation of the EU Falsified Medicines Directive (Directive 2011/62/EU), together with all supply chain stakeholders including GIRP (the European Association of Pharmaceutical Full-line Wholesalers), EAEPC (The European Association of Euro-Pharmaceutical Companies), and PGEU (Pharmaceutical Group of the European Union) . The ESM offers a cost-effective technological solution using 2D barcoding to verify the authenticity of medicinal products, combating the entry of falsified medicines in the EU supply chain and ensuring patient safety across Europe.
Richard Bergström, Director General EFPIA, stated: “The European Stakeholder Model is proof that, by joining together, we can best protect patients and their security, not only in the EU but around the world. Counterfeiting is a global problem, and it’s essential that we keep the discussion going with all relevant stakeholders – another reason to celebrate today’s discussion with INTERPOL’s Ronald K. Noble.”
“The sale of fake, counterfeit or illicit pharmaceutical products not only poses risks to the health of millions of people every day, but also provides opportunities for criminals to make massive profits at low risk,” said Secretary General Ronald K. Noble.
“To effectively tackle this problem requires a united effort, by law enforcement, the private sector, health agencies and most importantly the public. It is only though working together that we can address and turn back this crime,” concluded the INTERPOL Chief.
The global sales of counterfeit and substandard medicines, in particular via rogue Internet sites, present a growing threat to human life and economic growth. Recent estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO) suggest that approximately 1% of medicines sold in the developed world are counterfeit and in some parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America, more than 30% of the medicines on sale are fakes. According to annual reports from the National Association of Boards of pharmacy (NABP), about 97% of online medicine selling websites around the world are operating in violation of applicable laws. With 30,000 illegal sites targeting the European population on any given day, this demonstrates the extent of this public health issue. Last month the INTERPOL-coordinated Operation Pangea VII, involving nearly 200 enforcement agencies across 111 countries and targeting criminal networks behind the sale of fake medicines via illicit online pharmacies, led to 237 arrests worldwide, the seizure of more than USD 31 million worth of potentially dangerous medicines, the launch of 1,235 investigations, the removal of more than 19,000 adverts for illicit pharmaceuticals via social media platforms and the closure of more than 10,600 websites.
The European Stakeholder Model is one of several initiatives that EFPIA is engaged in with other stakeholders in order to strengthen the integrity of the legitimate supply chain as well as to make buying medicines online safer:
- In January 2014 EFPIA signed the European Commission’s Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the sale of Counterfeit Goods via the Internet, already signed by some 33 e-commerce platforms and major brand owners. The MoU, sponsored by the Internal Market Directorate General of the European Commission, aims at establishing a code of practice in the fight against the sale of counterfeit goods over the Internet while enhancing collaboration among its signatories. EFPIA also participates as observer in the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacy (ASOP EU) initiative at European level, an informal multi stakeholder patient safety coalition whose objective is to make buying medicines online safer by encouraging voluntary and collaborative action against illegal online pharmacies.
- EFPIA continues its outreach efforts towards Council of Europe members to ensure they ratify the MEDICRIME Convention (Convention on counterfeiting of medical products and similar crimes involving threats to public health). This would result in the adoption in each country of a common definition of counterfeit medical products; the criminalization of the manufacture and supply of counterfeit medicines, and the introduction of effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions and measures against counterfeiters.
- EFPIA seeks effective transposition and implementation of Article 52b of the EU Falsified Medicines Directive which requires Member States to take the necessary measures in order to prevent medicinal products that are introduced into the Union, but are not intended to be placed on the market of the Union, from entering into circulation if there are sufficient grounds to suspect that those products are falsified”.
- At a global level EFPIA supports the Pharmaceutical Industry Initiative to Combat Crime (PIICC) launched in March 2013 by INTERPOL and 30 major global pharmaceutical companies aiming at protecting the health of patients around the world by ensuring access to safe and effective medicines. EFPIA also supports the Fight The Fakes campaign. A global movement of organizations and individuals, Fight the Fakes aims to raise awareness about the dangers of fake medicines. The campaign gives a voice to those who have been personally impacted and shares the stories of those working to put a stop to this major public health threat.
EFPIA represents the pharmaceutical industry operating in Europe. Through its direct membership of 33 national associations and 40 leading pharmaceutical companies, EFPIA provides the voice of 1,900 companies committed to researching, developing and bringing new medicines to improve health and quality of life around the world. The pharmaceutical industry invests €30.6 billion on research and development per year in Europe and directly employs 690,000 people including 115,000 in R&D units in Europe. EFPIA members are committed to delivering innovative medicines to address unmet needs of patients and reducing the burden of chronic diseases for Europe’s ageing population. EFPIA believes in close cooperation with its stakeholders to help create sustainable healthcare systems and to develop prompt responses to health threats in Europe.
Alison Kilian - Communications Manager EFPIA
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