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Zero tolerance for counterfeit medicines, says association


14 May, 2008  

A European umbrella organisation representing the pharmaceutical industry is calling for urgent measures to protect patients from counterfeit medicines, including a ban on drug repackaging.

“Even one single case of counterfeit medicine is unacceptable”, said Brian Ager, Director General of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries Associations (EFPIA). “Counterfeiting medicines is a highly lucrative criminal activity that can have serious consequences for the patient and can undermine public confidence in medicines.

“Recent seizures of counterfeit medicines in the EU have shed light on the vulnerability of the pharmaceutical supply system and on practices that undermine efforts made by the industry to protect patients.”

Counterfeits have been found to contain the wrong amount of active ingredient, if any, which can be dangerous if used to treat seriously ill patients. Some counterfeit drugs even contain toxic substances. Usually, it is impossible for the untrained eye to tell the difference between fake and real medicines.

Current EU rules allow drugs to be repackaged, which can affect product traceability, says the EFPIA.

Following a public consultation launched in March by the European Commission, EFPIA is calling for the integrity of drugs’ original packaging to be guaranteed by legislation throughout the supply chain.

European Commission consultation document

EFPIA