[Ip-health] Press release from Interpol: INTERPOL and pharmaceutical industry launch global initiative to combat fake medicines
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Tue Mar 12 07:18:22 PDT 2013
*12 March 2013 - Media release*
*INTERPOL and pharmaceutical industry launch global initiative to combat
LYON, France – Combating the global scourge of fake medicines which
threatens the health of millions of people is the focus of a landmark
agreement between INTERPOL and 29 of the world’s largest pharmaceutical
The three-year deal, worth EUR 4.5 million, will see the creation of
INTERPOL’s Pharmaceutical Crime Programme to further build on the work of
its Medical Product Counterfeiting and Pharmaceutical Crime (MPCPC) unit.
This will enhance the law enforcement community’s response to
pharmaceutical crime through stronger partnership development.
The programme will focus on the prevention of all types of pharmaceutical
crime including branded and generic drug counterfeiting as well as the
identification and dismantling of organized crime networks linked to this
illegal activity, which generates millions in illicit profits every year.
“With no country, no drug, no medical product immune from counterfeiting, a
global effort is needed to combat this threat which puts the lives of
millions of people at risk every single day,” said INTERPOL Secretary
General Ronald K. Noble.
“This support from a group of 29 companies from the pharmaceutical industry
forms a bridge between the public and private sectors and will assist
INTERPOL and each of its 190 member countries to more effectively tackle
the problem of medical product counterfeiting,” added the INTERPOL Chief.
An essential part of the programme is to raise public awareness of the
dangers of fake drugs, particularly for people buying medicines online.
The World Health Organization estimates that in more than 50 per cent of
cases, medicines purchased over the Internet from illegal sites that
conceal their physical address have been found to be counterfeit.
In 2012, Operation Pangea V, an INTERPOL-supported initiative spanning 100
countries aimed at disrupting the organized crime networks behind the
illicit online sale of medicines, resulted in some 80 arrests and the
worldwide seizure of 3.75 million units of potentially life-threatening
medicines worth USD 10.5 million.
“Both brand-name and generic pharmaceuticals are susceptible to
counterfeiting, putting patient lives at risk,” said Haruo Naito, President
and CEO of Eisai. “This is why we have joined our colleagues across the
biopharmaceutical industry to partner with INTERPOL and expand the work of
its Medical Product Counterfeiting and Pharmaceutical Crime Unit. We fully
support INTERPOL's decision to establish a comprehensive initiative that
will enhance its efforts to prevent medical product counterfeiting and
pharmaceutical crime. Ultimately, this is about protecting patients around
The programme will include training, capacity building and targeted
enforcement actions to build awareness of the issue, as well as to disrupt
and dismantle the organized crime networks involved in the various types
of pharmaceutical crimes such as counterfeiting, illicit sales or illicit
“In the case of drug counterfeiting, it can mean the difference between
life and death for a patient.” said Christopher Viehbacher, CEO of Sanofi.
“It is estimated that 10 per cent of medicines are fake and these figures
can go up to 50 per cent, particularly in some poorer countries. This is
why it is so important that industry members partner with INTERPOL to
coordinate law enforcement operations around the world so that we can help
curtail the threat of counterfeit medicines online and at the retail level.”
Counterfeit cough syrup and other medicines laced with diethylene glycol
have caused eight mass poisonings around the world including in 2006 in
Panama where more than 100 people died, many of them children. In 2012,
some 109 heart patients in Pakistan died after taking fake medicine.
"Drug counterfeiters put at risk the health of patients around the world by
producing substandard and sometimes lethal medicines,” said John C.
Lechleiter, Ph.D., Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Eli
Lilly and Company. "Putting an end to counterfeiting requires broad,
coordinated action on a global scale. This new initiative between the
pharmaceutical industry and INTERPOL is aimed at helping ensure that
patients can trust in the safety and efficacy of the medicines they rely
Pharmaceutical crime involves the manufacture, trade and distribution of
fake, stolen or illicit medicines and medical devices. It encompasses the
counterfeiting and falsification of medical products, their packaging and
associated documentation, as well as theft, fraud, illicit diversion,
smuggling, trafficking, and money laundering.
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