The Fight the Fakes Alliance (FTF Alliance), a new multistakeholder non-profit association headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, is stepping up the fight against falsified medicines. Seven years since its first activities as a grass root advocacy campaign, the new formal governance structure will allow the FTF Alliance to take the fight against substandard and falsified medicines to the next level. With over 15 members representing health care professionals, manufacturers, wholesalers, researchers and patients, the Alliance is uniquely positioned to scale up action to prevent falsified medicines from endangering people’s health and well-being.
The FTF Alliance aims to do so by expanding its advocacy and awareness raising efforts through dedicated social media campaigns and events, strengthening capacity of organisations working in the area of medicines quality, and promoting initiatives to combat substandard and falsified medicines. The ultimate goal is to create a global movement of like-minded organisations to ensure this issue receives the attention it deserves on the global health policy agenda.
Falsified medicines not only put patients’ lives at risk but undermine trust in healthcare systems and modern medicine, and hamper crucial progress made so far by countries towards universal health coverage. Although this is a global issue, the burden is still disproportionately higher in low- and middle-income countries where 1 in 10 medicines are thought to be either substandard or falsified. Nearly 170,000 children die annually of falsified pneumonia medicines and substandard and falsified antimalarials may cause as many as 116,000 deaths from malaria annually in sub-Saharan Africa. The limited data available on this issue means the known figures almost certainly represent just a fraction of the true burden of falsified medicines around the globe.
Fake medicines have been an under-addressed global health issue for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has not only concentrated attention on the burden and dangers of falsified medicines but underscored the devastating impact they have on higher and lower-income countries alike. Since the start of the pandemic, an unprecedented rise in falsified COVID-19 related medical products has been reported by both Interpol and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)."During a public health crisis such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, tackling this global scourge becomes even more acute and urgent," the OECD has warned earlier this year.
COVID-19-related fake products reported so far this year include personal protective equipment, such as surgical masks, hand sanitizers and gloves, as well as diagnostic tests, potential treatments and even “cures”.
With COVID-19 vaccines likely to win regulatory approval and even enter the market in the coming weeks and months, the risk of falsified versions of such vaccines being advertised is imminent, stressing the urgent nature of the work FTF Alliance is set out to undertake.
Adam Aspinall, Senior Director, Access and Product Management, at Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), and the newly elected chair of the FTF Alliance, highlights: “After months of hard work, I’m excited to start the new chapter of the Fight the Fakes Alliance. With the on-going COVID-19 pandemic and the rise in falsified medicines now and in future, our combined efforts to mitigate, control and ultimately eradicate the damage they cause to patient health and lives are more crucial than ever."
The launch of the FTF Alliance coincides with the 3rd annual Fight the Fakes Week (7-13 December 2020), a week-long advocacy campaign that reached over 4 million people in 2019. Under this year’s theme, “Fight the Fakes – through the pandemic & beyond”, the FTF Alliance, its members and supporting organisations will be carrying their stark health warning to hundreds of thousands more around the world.
In a year fueled with uncertainty, misinformation, and dwindling confidence in modern medicine, we must step up our efforts to ensure that people everywhere are able to access the safe and high-quality medicines they need.
Membership of the FTF Alliance is open to business and non-profit organisations, as well as academic institutions and youth groups. Private sector companies will be able to join the Alliance as corporate partners via a separate membership scheme. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
About the Fight the Fakes Alliance
The Fight the Fakes Alliance (commonly referred to as ‘Fight the Fakes’) is a multi-stakeholder non-profit association that aims to raise awareness about the dangers of falsified and substandard medicines. Fight the Fakes gives a voice to those who have been personally impacted and shares the stories of those working to put a stop to this threat to public health. It seeks to build a global movement of organisations and individuals who will shine a light on the threat falsified and substandard medicines pose to patient safety and health systems and to achieving universal health coverage. Fight the Fakes’ diverse membership shares the belief that coordination among all stakeholders working along the medical supply chain is essential if we are to tackle this global health threat.
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