Campaign says fight against fake medicines is far from won

A week-long campaign has been launched to press for greater efforts to fight the spread of falsified and substandard medicines around the world.

The Fight the Fakes campaign – running between December 2 and 8 – aims to draw attention to the problem of falsified medicines among the general public as well as more than three million “doctors, nurses, researchers, wholesalers, pharmaceutical executives, medical and pharmacy students.”

It’s the second awareness-raising drive by the 37 members of the campaign, who say they will “bring this message to governments and international organisations to rally as much support as possible for this under-recognised global health threat.”

“Over 250,000 children die each year as a result of being given falsified malaria and tuberculosis medicines alone,” says the campaign. However, it adds: “Given the staggering number of falsified antibiotics and other counterfeit medical products, this number will be much higher in reality.”

The partners would like to see greater efforts and concrete action from the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as regional agencies and national governments to curb the manufacturing and distribution of falsified medicines.

Strong national legislative frameworks which prohibit the manufacturing and sale of falsified medical products and subsequently rigid law enforcement also need to be put in place, along with “the implementation of robust and effective drug regulatory systems which prevent falsified medicines from reaching patients“, they say.

Only by doing so will it be meet the objective of universal health coverage (UHC) by 2030, as this requires access to safe, effective and high-quality medicine.

This campaign will be run this week under the #FTFweek hashtag and with the slogan: “Be Aware, Speak Up, Fight the Fakes”, say the organisers.

The three key messages are as follows:

1) Fake medicines are a threat to public health. By avoiding authorization from medicines regulatory authority and by attempting to pass themselves off as something they are not fake medicines pose a global public health risk, leading to resistance to treatment, illness, disability and even death.

2) Fake medicines undermine patients’ trust in health systems, their governments, health care providers and manufacturers of genuine medicines.

3) Manufacturers of fake medicines do not discriminate. Fake medicines can be both long established and recently marketed medicines, both branded and generic, and both domestically manufactured and imported.

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