Articles from October 2009

Nafdac Losing War Against Fake Drugs – Pharmacists

The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) Kano branch and the north-west branch, of the Nigerian Association of Industrial Pharmacists (NAIP), have expressed disgust with the approach by the National Agency for Foods, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in its fight against fake drugs.

The groups described NAFDAC’s approach as insincere, saying the agency is treating symptoms, while it neglects the root of the problem. The two unions spoke through their Chairman, Malam Ahmed Gana in Kano.

Gana disclosed that instead of arresting the problem of manufacturing fake drugs and their infiltration into the market, NAFDAC is busy organising seminars and « charging us exorbitant amounts. » Read the full story on All Africa. (All Africa, 1st October 2009)

Proposed life jail for fake drug dealers

AT a sensitisation workshop for local government chairpersons in Abuja, the Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Dr. Paul Orhii blamed the continued menace of fake drugs on lack of awareness, chaotic drug distribution system, corruption, insecure environment and inadequate legislation.

The severity of the problem has apparently nudged the Federal Government to seek more severe punishment for the merchants of these products. In this regard, Minister of State for Health, Dr. Idi Hong says the applicable law is being reviewed to impose a life jail term instead of the current 15 years jail term or a fine of N500,000 as punishment. The production and sale of fake drugs pose serious danger to public health and safety. Read the full story on Guardian News. (Guardian News, 1st October 2009)

Pharma scams go global, reports find

The thousands of gray-market and black-market sellers of knock-off and fake pharmaceuticals and a glut of industrial chemicals in China, according to two reports released last week. While the U.S. accounted for nearly half of all pharmacy spam in 2008, China has now overcome that nation, accounting for nearly a third of all spam today, compared with 22 percent for the U.S.
In addition, while nearly half of all pharmacies were hosted in the United States in 2008, a little more than a third are hosted in the U.S. today, the report found. When researchers at MarkMonitor attempted to buy a drug from one of the sites, they were surprised at how far across the globe the operation extended, said Frederick Felman, chief marketing officer for the company.

« The phone number for the seller was in Texas, the site was Canadian, the people spoke in Russian, the drugs came from India, and the credit card processing was in Israel, » Felman said. Read the full story on Security Focus (Security Focus, 2st October 2009)

EU urged to take ‘urgent’ action to combat fake drugs

A conference in parliament has been told that urgent action is needed to combat the fast-growing problem of fake drugs. Latest figures point to a huge 384 per cent rise in seizures of counterfeit medicines, which now represents the third biggest category of customs seizures in the EU. A conference, called, « Making Patient Safety a Priority, » was told that the European commission plans action against the counterfeiters with its pharmaceutical health package proposal.
But German ALDE deputy Jorgo Chatzimarkakis wants to see remedial action now before the legislative process runs its course.

He said, « There is a pressing need to deal with this threat through both practical and legislative measures as quickly as possible.
Another keynote spaker at the event on Wednesday was Portuguese deputy Marisa Matias, parliament´s rapporteur on the package,  who highlighted what she says are « gaps » in the draft law. These include the problem of sales of drugs on the internet, by far the most profitable outlet to counterfeiters.

Matias said,  » We all know that a huge percentage of counterfeit medicines are sold via the Net. The question is – how is the draft directive going to tackle this? »
Dr Di Giorgio, of the Italian Medicines Agency, outlined what his country is doing to address the issue,saying, « While it is not impossible for illegal medicines to find their way onto the market in Italy, the system we have in place makes this both difficult and very expensive for counterfeiters, » he said.
In two of these member states, Belgium and Greece, the unique number is checked with the UK-based patient safety communications company Aegate to establish its authenticity.
The conference was told that in 2007 and on the basis of seizures by customs agencies, Switzerland overtook India as the main fake medicines exporter to the EU.
Some of the drugs originating in the Far East have been found to contain cement and brick dust, and be coloured with ink from computer printer cartons, it was said.
It is not known whether anyone has suffered side effects, but Dr Jonathan Harper, who was hired by the Council of Europe to write a report on the counterfeit trade, believes it is probable that there have already been deaths in the UK caused by fake medicines.  Read the full story on The Parliament (The Parliament, 4th October 2009)

European Parliament targets online fake medicines 

The EU executive’s decision not to legislate against online pharmacies is a major flaw in its proposal to fight counterfeit medicines, according to leading politicians responsible for pushing the new law through the European Parliament. 

Speaking at a meeting of industry groups in the European Parliament, MEP Jorgo Chatzimarkakis said the online trade in fake medicines is a growing illegal business and its omission from the European Commission’s proposed directive is a « weakness ».
Chatzimarkakis, a German Liberal, also warned fake drugs are increasingly being channelled through the legal supply chain. He said that countries allowing Internet drug sales should produce a list of reliable online pharmacies to help consumers avoid illegal medicines.  Leftist Portuguese MEP Marisa Matias, who is responsible for drafting a report on counterfeit medicines for the European Parliament’s environment committee, said ignoring Web sales is « a major gap » in the directive.

She said parallel trade represents a large part of the medicines market and will be included in the regulatory framework. She said she would examine the practicalities of allowing parallel traders to repackage medicines for resale in other European countries. Read the full story on Euroactiv (Euroactiv, 6th October 2009)

India releases Counterfeit Drugs report, poor quality drugs still a problem

The Indian government is touting a new survey showing a low percentage of drugs within the country are counterfeit. But the reality is that India still has a major problem with poor-quality drugs.

One month ago, the Indian health ministry made a startling claim that only 0.04 percent of drugs it surveyed across the country were counterfeit. Superficially this is a fantastic result, but doubts remain about whether the data represent India’s drug quality. Substandard drugs kill hundreds of thousands of people every year, mostly in Asia and Africa, and India has always been cited as a major seller of such drugs. Is this no longer true?

And while the Indian government has pushed through recent laws that will make would-be counterfeiters think twice—significant fines and a decade in jail await the guilty—there is a danger that the latest Indian survey may well encourage complacency. It might even be used to restrict policing budgets, which are still woefully low—criminals are not perturbed by harsher sentences if no one is enforcing the law. So while the Indian government touts its survey, the reality is that India still has a major problem with poor-quality drugs. Read the full story on The Gov Monitor (The Gov Monitor, 7th October 2009)