Experts outline major challenges in counterfeit medicine fight
18 November 2009
The report is a summary of an international conference on counterfeit medicines attended by opinion formers and hosted by the Wellcome Trust in London in October.
Counterfeit medicines represent a major threat to public health, particularly in developing countries. The extent of the problem is hard to judge, but it is likely that around 1 per cent of drugs in developed countries, and 10-30 per cent of drugs in developing countries are fake.
The conference brought together experts from the public health, economic, industry and national regulatory sectors. The aim was to draw out consensus on the key issues and identify ways in which the problem could be tackled.
It is estimated that international trade in counterfeit medicines will be worth US$75 billion (£45 billion) in 2010 and remains an attractive market because of its size, and inadequate enforcement and deterrents.
Delegates described how efforts to tackle the trade in counterfeit medicines have been compromised by confusion over definitions and the relationship between counterfeit medicines and generic medicines, and related intellectual property issues.
They said future action will require from multiple stakeholders, including the pharmaceutical and generic medicines industries, national governments, NGOs, enforcement agencies, customs and trade organisations, national health systems and patients.
A full report from the conference is available on our Counterfeit Medicines page, which also features presentations and short films from a number of the speakers including Aline Plancon of INTERPOL, Roger Bate of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research and Dr Paul Newton from the Laos arm of the Wellcome Trust's South-east Asia Major Overseas Programme.
Image: Packaging for genuine (left) and counterfeit (right) artesunate antimalarial tablets. Credit: Wellcome Images
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