Stop the counterfeit drugs problem at its source, urges think tank
IPN Press release
As the World Health Organization meets in Bonn (15th November) to consider ways of tackling the growing menace of counterfeit medicines, International Policy Network’s report, Counterfeit Medicines in Less Developed Countries: Problems and Solutions, argues that the deadly trade in counterfeit medicines will not be stopped unless and until the countries harbouring counterfeiters improve their legal systems.
The authors, Julian Morris and Philip Stevens, warn that the majority of counterfeit medicines are produced in lower income countries – particularly China and other parts of South East Asia – and that action in these countries is a priority.
Not only can these drugs cause serious injury and death, counterfeit drugs can lead to resistance, undermining the effectiveness of legitimate drugs.
There is also evidence that counterfeits are leaking into the supply chains of western countries.
According to Counterfeit Medicines in Less Developed Countries: Problems and Solutions, the root of the problem lies in inadequate enforcement of laws in counterfeit production hotspots. If trademarks cannot be enforced, cheaply produced fakes will proliferate. If civil liability law is defective, consumers have no way of gaining redress from people who manufacture or sell harmful products. If legal systems are corrupt, law enforcement agencies will be in cahoots with counterfeiting gangs.
Unless these basic problems with the legal systems of poor countries are addressed, counterfeiters will continue to have free rein to exploit their massively profitable but hugely damaging racketeering.
One of the authors, Philip Stevens said: “Counterfeit medicines are a grave threat to the health of rich and poor countries. New technology can only do so much to stop the fakes, because the criminals have the incentives and ingenuity to catch up with it extremely quickly.”
“For a more sustainable solution to the problem, we need to bolster the weak legal frameworks in poor countries. That means enforcing trademarks, weeding out corruption in the judicial systems and improving the law more generally”.
PDF version: Counterfeit medicines in Less Developed Countries: Problems and Solutions