Global Health Matters

Watch Out for False Friends

Global Health Matters
22nd July 2013
By Mario Ottiglio

Every day, fake medicines find their way into online and physical pharmacies, hospitals, and street markets. This plague knows no borders. In the best case scenario, fake medicines leave patients with no side-effects but also without a cure. In many other cases, however, they can kill people. For this reason, health representatives from different countries are rallying together this week in Geneva to discuss fake medicines and how they could work together to address this silent but major public health threat.

Let me highlight one key concept, together. Given the nature of the problem, we should not lose sight of the fact that tackling fake medicines requires a holistic approach. One that takes into account both a wide array of policy areas, like regulations, communications, technologies, and enforcement; and multiple partners from patients, health professionals, wholesalers, health authorities, lawmakers, and media. In other words, we need to look for multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder-driven solutions which can reassure the general public and health practitioners that they will access genuine medicines.

At a technical level, I believe that efforts should focus on strengthening regulatory capacities, enhance data collection and reporting, and help secure the supply chain. Regulatory authorities need to be empowered and have the capacity to manage the authorization and distribution of medicines so as to ensure they are of high quality. As fake medicines affect all parts of the world, this could be done through regional cooperation and harmonization. However, any infrastructure and policy countries put in place should be supported by other important systemic elements, including a strong legislative framework and effective awareness campaigns.

Today we have a great opportunity to reach out to many people thanks to new media tools. For this reason, we at IFPMA have produced a short video starring a genuine pill who explains the dangers of fake medicines and their impact on our societies.

This video is a 3-minute effort to talk to all those who are on the front line against fake medicines: from patients to health professionals and regulators. They all need to be on the lookout to better understand the danger of fake medicines and how to stay safe.

Please help us raise awareness on fake medicines by sharing this video, tweeting it, talking about it, and showing it to the people that you care about… and tell us what you think about it.

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