PR: Fight the Fakes Alliance calls for a watertight global medicines supply chain

‘Keep patients safe - Secure the global medicines supply chain’ is the motto of the 5th Fight the Fakes Week. The aim is to highlight how supply chain vulnerabilities are incentivising unscrupulous players to manufacture and distribute falsified and substandard medicines and facilitate their entry into the legitimate pharmaceutical supply chain.

Global healthcare supply chain actors, regulators, and the international community must urgently strengthen their collaboration to prevent substandard and fake medicines from reaching patients.

Recently, news that some 70 children in The Gambia may have died from substandard cough syrups made in India shocked the world[1]. The World Health Organization (WHO) issued soon after a second alert[2] on additional toxic pediatric medicines identified in its South-East Asia region. According to Indonesian authorities, around 200 cases of acute kidney injuries in children have been reported, with almost 100 subsequent deaths[3]. Sadly, this is not the first time such reports have come to light[4].

Falsified and substandard medicines can find their way into the supply chain in several ways: through mislabeling, human negligence, or intentional adulteration by manufacturers or suppliers to achieve higher profits. Moreover, crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and disruptions due to armed conflicts or natural disasters weaken the supply chain and exacerbate the issue, falsified and substandard medicines can be profitably used to fill the supply gap[5].

These “medicines” pose serious risks to people’s health and have dire consequences for the wellbeing of communities and individual countries' socio-economic stability[6]. Stronger national regulatory frameworks, solid reporting mechanisms, extended medicine quality verification systems, and a secure global supply chain combined with effective awareness campaigns are crucial in the fight against substandard and falsified medicines.

In this context Fight the Fakes Alliance welcomes two new members that have zero tolerance for falsified and substandard medicines and commit to combining efforts in the fight against them.

“Promoting uniform and effective regulatory controls to prevent the production and trade in falsified and sub-standard versions of all medicines and their active pharmaceutical ingredients is central to the International Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association (IGBA) mission of supporting increased access to quality assured medicines for patients around the globe. IGBA is delighted to partner with all the members to tackle substandard and falsified products and hence strengthen the Fight the Fake Alliance.” said Vivian Frittelli, Chair of IGBA.

University of Hertfordshire Hosted by Global Academic Foundation (UH-GAF) academics and students are eager to join in helping to eradicate the substandard and falsified medicines which threaten patients’ lives as well as healthcare systems. “We will start by establishing a school club that would work on arranging workshops, scientific activities, awareness campaigns, and seminars to support Fight the Fakes Alliance in achieving their respectful association objectives that work for the benefit, safety and security of the whole globe.” Said Aly Ahmed Abdelbary, Dean of Life and Medical Sciences, UH-GAF.

Adam Aspinall, Fight the Fakes Alliance Chair and Senior Director, Access and Product Management at Medicines for Malaria Venture, in welcoming the new members, said: “Falsified and substandard medicines require action from all the stakeholders on the medicines supply chain, because it’s such a complex and multifaceted issue. The International Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association is an important actor here and we are proud to have them on board. And we must not forget about how important education is, especially for youth, Fight the Fakes Alliance has a special place for Academic and Youth Chapters such as University of Hertfordshire Hosted by Global Academic Foundation.”

Fight the Fakes Week continues until 11 December 2022. The highlight is the flagship event on 7 December: “Keeping patients safe by securing the medicines supply chain” which convenes Fight the Fakes Alliance members and friends, representatives from pharmacopeias, regulators, and industry representatives, to discuss actions that governments and global stakeholders can take to close quality gaps for pharmaceutical ingredients and finished formulations to better protect patients and strengthen supply chain resilience.

The next Fight the Fakes Week is scheduled between 4 – 10 December 2023.

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