Updated on 14 March 2013
"Both brand-name and generic pharmaceuticals are susceptible to counterfeiting, putting patient lives at risk," said Mr Haruo Naito, president and CEO, Eisai. "This is why we have joined our colleagues across the biopharmaceutical industry to partner with Interpol and expand the work of its Medical Product Counterfeiting and Pharmaceutical Crime Unit. We fully support Interpol's decision to establish a comprehensive initiative that will enhance its efforts to prevent medical product counterfeiting and pharmaceutical crime. Ultimately, this is about protecting patients around the world."
The program will include training, capacity building and targeted enforcement actions to build awareness of the issue, as well as to disrupt and dismantle the organized crime networks involved in the various types of pharmaceutical crimes such as counterfeiting, illicit sales or illicit diversions. "In the case of drug counterfeiting, it can mean the difference between life and death for a patient," said Christopher Viehbacher, CEO of Sanofi. "It is estimated that 10 per cent of medicines are fake and these figures can go up to 50 per cent, particularly in some poorer countries. This is why it is so important that industry members partner with Interpol to coordinate law enforcement operations around the world so that we can help curtail the threat of counterfeit medicines online and at the retail level."
Counterfeit cough syrup and other medicines laced with diethylene glycol have caused eight mass poisonings around the world including in 2006 in Panama where more than 100 people died, many of them children. In 2012, some 109 heart patients in Pakistan died after taking fake medicine.
"Drug counterfeiters put at risk the health of patients around the world by producing substandard and sometimes lethal medicines," said Dr John C Lechleiter, chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Eli Lilly. "Putting an end to counterfeiting requires broad, coordinated action on a global scale. This new initiative between the pharmaceutical industry and INTERPOL is aimed at helping ensure that patients can trust in the safety and efficacy of the medicines they rely on."
Pharmaceutical crime involves the manufacture, trade and distribution of fake, stolen or illicit medicines and medical devices. It encompasses the counterfeiting and falsification of medical products, their packaging and associated documentation, as well as theft, fraud, illicit diversion, smuggling, trafficking, and money laundering.