Zero tolerance on counterfeit medicines. It is the unanimous voice of the leaders of the world's pharmaceutical companies, who recently gathered in Paris at the annual press conference of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). The drug manufacturers have declared war on the criminal organizations, as they have defined them, for the counterfeiting of medicines.
A worrying phenomenon that is growing, challenging legality and public health, assuming colossal characters. This is confirmed by the WHO data according to which 10 percent of medicines in the world are found to be falsified with sugar instead of the active principle, ineffective molecules, dosages not respected, or worse with toxic substances. In 2007 alone, over four billion counterfeit packages were seized for a tour of 45 billion euros, a disturbing figure, with respect to which the European institutions have decided to unite to give a strong signal. If the sources are not controlled then, as in online purchases, counterfeiting in 70% cases is dangerous. One month after the report of the Directorate General for Taxes and Customs of the European Union it emerges that in the last year the number of counterfeit medicines has increased by 5 1 %. EFPIA is also launching a new alarm, given that counterfeiting today no longer concerns only internet sales, but also affects pharmacies, official and certified channels, and also affects life-saving medicines such as those for the treatment of cancer, diseases heart disease, mental disorders, diabetes, serious infections which could lead to lethal consequences. At the moment the most affected countries are Great Britain and Germany where numerous cases have been recorded and where the costs of medicines are higher than elsewhere. The EFPIA leaders are asking for unitary rules, more severe civil and criminal penalties equal at least to those in force for drug traffickers. It is unacceptable, they say, for counterfeit medicines to be treated in the same way as clothing brands; but the drug manufacturers are not limited to this and have also put concrete solutions on the table. "It is important to understand that medicines cannot be repackaged," explains Jean Francois Dehecq, EFPIA Vice President and President of Sanofi Aventis, "and must be accompanied by a new traceability system. The aim is to allow the pharmacist to identify the counterfeit packages before the purchase and sale.A new mandatory system of drug coding is imposed at the European Union level with a single 2D barcode with progressive numbers, called "Data Matrix" which will become the card of product identity After a pilot project in 2009 in Germany, the anti-fraud system will be operational throughout the territory starting from 2011". "The pharmaceutical sector represents 19% of world expenditure and in Europe employs over 643,100 people, of which 107,000 they work in research centres», explains Arthur Higgins, President of EFPIA and CEO of Bayer Healthcare, referring to the need for a new culture of alliance against counterfeiting.
La Repubblica Salute of 03/07/2008, article by Anna Mirabile N. 587 – 3 JULY 2008 p. 9