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    OECS Goes Proactive Regarding Fake Medicines

    By Keith R | June 10, 2008

    Topics: Pharmaceutical Issues | No Comments »

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    Temas Note: To understand better the threat posed by counterfeit medicines and what is being done by others to tackle it, check this prior Temas article.


    From the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS):

    OECS Secretariat launches proactive mechanism against Counterfeit Medicines

    Law enforcement and health officials from St. Lucia will meet on Thursday 5th June 2008 to launch the first in a series of national workshops in the OECS aimed at combating counterfeit medicines. Talks will focus on the magnitude and dangers of counterfeit medicines.

    The OECS Pharmaceutical Procurement Service (OECS/PPS) is facilitating the meeting.

    There is no evidence to date of counterfeit medicines in the OECS but the OECS/PPS is conducting the workshops to create the awareness of the dangers that fake medicines pose. The launching of an OECS poster campaign on combating counterfeit medicines is among the main workshop activities: “It’s a very serious workshop because we have not yet been able to create that level of awareness in the OECS regarding the dangers of counterfeit medicines. The effect of counterfeit medicines on public health is a serious one.” Francis Burnett

    OECS/PPS has continuously expressed concerns about the growing global trend of counterfeit medicines, and warns that no country is immune to such a scourge: “You might recall that a top food and drug administrator was recently executed for accepting bribes and corruption with regards to facilitating counterfeit medicines in China. It’s a huge problem. We now believe that about 10 % of global sales of medicines is now expected to be counterfeit. This translates into approximately 40 billion US dollars annually. So many of us may be innocent victims receiving counterfeit medicines and sixty percent of all counterfeit medicines have no active ingredient.” There have been numerous international examples of death as a result of counterfeit medicines. In one case, approximately two thousand, five hundred children died after 26 thousand persons were injected with fake meningitis vaccines.

    Head of the OECS/PPS Francis Burnett agrees that an effective regulatory system for managing pharmaceutical supplies will encourage new and sustained investment: “It erodes the confidence in our public health care system that a patient who is expecting to receive relief for his complaint might receive a counterfeit drug with no active ingredient. The person’s medical condition may deteriorate, the patient may lose confidence in his practitioner and or the practitioner may prescribe an alternative regimen which may be more expensive or has more adverse reactions. The OECS countries should be able to attract foreign investment of pharmaceutical manufacturing in OECS Countries if we have a good reputation for combating counterfeit medicines. It’s very important for us to have a clean image.”

    To help further address the situation, customs and law enforcement officials will exchange ideas with other stakeholders on a training program for detecting counterfeit medicines at ports. The OECS/PPS is convinced that a coordinated and inter-sectoral approach by law enforcement officers, health officials, the judiciary and civil society is necessary to combat the dangers of counterfeit medicines.

    OECS/PPS’ collaborating partner in the fight against counterfeit medicines, Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) will also address the meeting.

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