Statement 20 May 2011

WHA 64 agenda item 13.7 on substandard/ spurious/ falsely labeled/ falsified/ counterfeit medical products


IFPMA Statement under WHA 64 agenda item 13.7 

Delivered by Mr Mario Ottiglio, Associate Director, Public Affairs & Global Health Policy 

On behalf of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations, the IFPMA, I thank you for the opportunity to address the issue related to fake medical products.

Mr Chairman, Madame Director General, the IFPMA has consistently stated, including before this Assembly a year ago, that falsified/counterfeit etc. medicines are a major public health threat. It is a serious threat to patient safety and it is only right that we should expect all involved in the global health community to tackle it with the same vigor as any other health threat.

Firstly, it is a growing phenomenon that knows no borders: fake medical products are not isolated occurrences, encounters with such criminal products regularly happen across the world.

Mr Chairman, there are numerous and increasing press reports on incidents related to fake medicines. We are also seeing more and more actions being taken by the competent authorities in different parts of the world to control and combat fake/counterfeit medicines. Such action by authorities and awareness raising in the media very encouraging.

In 2010, 1,735 incidents of counterfeit medicines were reported by the Pharmaceutical Security Institute (compared with 1,585 in 2008). These incidents include those reported by IFPMA member companies and information collected from open sources. Worryingly, data also shows that fake cancer medicines increased by almost 20% over the previous year. Furthermore, in 536 incidents recorded, fake medicines reached licensed wholesale distributors and/or pharmacies in 37 different countries.

Secondly, it is an issue which requires a multi-stakeholder and multi-disciplinary approach – regardless of its name and nature. We believe that cooperation is fundamental, both at the local and the global levels. Therefore the leadership of the World Health Organization on this issue is fundamental. We believe that now is the moment to make efforts to agree on a global agenda which puts patients’ safety at the core. This should start by uniting around an agreed term that will permit the building of a truly global shared commitment to stopping fake medicines.

Member States should therefore seize the current opportunity, either to agree on a consensus-building process to refine the existing partnership, or to create a new one to fight fake medicines. Doing nothing is not an option. It would be play into the hands of the criminals who are profiting at the expense of patients’ health.


The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) represents over 90 innovative pharmaceutical companies and associations around the world. Our industry’s almost three million employees discover, develop, and deliver medicines and vaccines that advance global health. Based in Geneva, IFPMA has official relations with the United Nations and contributes industry expertise to help the global health community improve the lives of people everywhere. For more information, visit

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