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Articles from December 2007

A plague of bad medicine

There is a silent killer on the loose and it is growing into a global epidemic – counterfeit medicines. Unlike counterfeit purses or watches, there is no demand by consumers for fake drugs. No one – rich or poor, Chinese, American or African – seeks them out; their victims are always duped into believing they have the real thing. The motivation is simple: counterfeiting drugs is big business today – it offers big financial reward, little cost of entry and operation, and low risk. In many countries a person found guilty of faking a T-shirt logo gets far harsher punishment than one who counterfeits a cancer treatment. This is not merely a problem of dummy pills made with relatively harmless inactive ingredients. In many cases, the genuine active ingredient is replaced by a cheap look-alike chemical, often a highly toxic one. It is clear that a coordinated, worldwide effort is needed to address this serious threat to patient health. (14 December 2007, International Herald Tribune, USA)

OFT discusses medicines distribution report

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has published their new report, ‘Distribution of Medicines in the UK’, which supports the view that manufacturers should be free to choose the distribution method they consider to be the most efficient. However, it suggest that direct-to-pharmacy schemes could significantly increase the costs of medicines to the NHS, detrimentally change distribution service levels to pharmacies (and therefore patients) and possibly decrease competition within the wholesaler sector to favour the creation of a wholesaler with significant market power. PharmaTimes UK has invited a wide range of stakeholders to a special meeting inspired by the new report on the 17th January 2008 at the Dorchester Hotel, London. The guest speakers are: Ann Pope, Director, OFT; David Fisher, Commercial Director, ABPI; Michael Thomas, Healthcare Principal, AT Kearney; Martin Sawer, Executive Director, BAPW; Sue Sharpe, Chief Executive, PSNC; Mark Stephenson, Supplier Relations Director, Unichem; Dr David Baker, Chief Executive, Dispensing Doctors Association and Jim Thomson, Chairman, The European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines and Chief Executive, Centre for Mental Health. (11 December 2007, Pharma Times online)

BMA to attempt to contral internet drug sales

The British Medical Association (BMA) is to work with the UK Government and the World Health Organization (WHO) to control internet sales of medicines, since concerns have been raised by the UN and the WHO that some drugs sold over the internet are counterfeit and potentially harmful. The BMA will also approach the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to explore the possibility of working with them on the issue of counterfeit drugs and will urge the UK Government to lead international action to deal with this important issue. Read the whole article here. (10 December 2007, eHealth Insider – Primary Care)

Drug counterfeiters face new obstacles

Counterfeit medicines are an increasing problem throughout Europe, as counterfeiters and the networks that aid them seek to exploit a very lucrative market. The counterfeiters are using ever more sophisticated methods of producing fakes which are almost indistinguishable to trained pharmacists, as well as the general public. The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has responded to the threat of counterfeit medicines and medical devices with the publication of its “Anti-counterfeiting strategy 2007–2010”. This three year plan involves strategic and operational measures to minimise the risk of counterfeits reaching patients through both regulated and unregulated routes. (1 December 2007, The Pharmaceutical Journal)