The trade in counterfeit medicines is flourishing. How can new technologies help to detect fakes? What will it take for developing countries to thwart the trade? And are current policies targeting the right threat to patients' health?
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This organisation, with members from the public and private sector, aims to promote patient safety and raise awareness about the problem of counterfeit medicines. The website offers advice on detecting counterfeit medicines in the local pharmacy or online — by noticing whether a tablet has an unusual smell or taste, for example. It also provides an overview of counterfeit medicines, features relevant news stories and outlines the technological tools that manufacturers or pharmacists can use to detect fake drugs.
This global coalition of stakeholders — international and nongovernmental organizations, drug manufacturers and regulatory authorities —was set up by the WHO and works globally to tackle the production, trade and sale of counterfeit medical products. The website publishes information about the organisation’s activities and five working groups of experts that focus on specific aspects of the problem. It also provides a list of resources, including recommendations on raising awareness about the issue. Through IMPACT, the WHO has developed guidelines for measures to combat counterfeit medicines, which are also available on the website.
This group of mainly not-for-profit organisations works to protect consumers from counterfeit medicines. The website publishes an encyclopaedia of counterfeit drug incidents documenting details of where, when and how counterfeit drugs or other medical products have been identified in the legitimate drug supply around the world. Press releases, news articles, resources on online pharmacy regulations and contact details of experts in the field are free to access. The site also features relevant research articles and includes a guide advising pharmacists on how to be alert to counterfeit medicines.
The PSI is a network of 25 pharmaceutical companies set up to improve information sharing about counterfeit pharmaceuticals. The website provides an overview of definitions, trends and detections of counterfeit drugs, and provides links to useful resources — such as trusted online suppliers of medicine and guides to detecting fake drugs. The institute informs law-enforcement and regulatory agencies when it receives information about organisations or individuals that could be involved in counterfeiting. It focuses on ending drug manufacturers' commercial losses through counterfeiting — generally those bigger than US$100,000 or activities involving large criminal networks.
This nongovernmental organisation sets standards of quality, purity and strength for medicines made or sold in the USA. It collaborates with USAID to help countries in the developing world ensure that medicines meet standards for quality and safety, and are used appropriately. The website publishes useful information such as links to courses for chemists and healthcare professionals, a list of drugs pending approval and an overview of Food Chemicals Codex standards. The USP runs a US$35 million project across Africa, Asia and Latin America that focuses on drugs for USAID priority diseases including HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
This microsite from the Wellcome Trust — a global charitable foundation based in the UK — publishes information on the counterfeit drugs trade, focussing on how it affects both developed and developing countries. In 2009 the organisation held a conference with the American Pharmaceutical Group, which carries out research and development for drugs affecting developing countries, to discuss how to combat counterfeiting, raise awareness and reach consensus on the major challenges. A report summarising the meeting is made available on the site, which also includes presentations and video interviews with key participants.