Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged collective action to protect people from falling victim to the “insidious and illicit” trade in counterfeit medicines, a problem affecting all countries but which hits the poor particularly hard.
“We must join forces to fight this global crime for the sake of international public health,” Mr. Ban told the “Call of Cotonou” meeting held in Benin on the trafficking of counterfeit medicines.
The initiative is the brainchild of former French president Jacques Chirac, and is intended to be the first step of a global campaign aimed at raising awareness of the problem and persuading governments to impose tougher penalties and improve routine testing of medications.
Mr. Ban added that individuals are not the only ones who suffer, noting that counterfeit medical products undermine the credibility of health systems, waste resources and diminish confidence in the authorities responsible for public safety.
The problem is pervasive, affecting nearly all countries, but developing countries, which often lack the capacity to stop counterfeit products from entering markets, are hit hardest, said the Secretary-General.
Noting that organized counterfeiters operate through international networks, Mr. Ban emphasized that only a global response can stop them. He pledged UN support to international agencies, drug and law enforcement bodies, the pharmaceutical industry, health professionals and consumer groups to address this problem.
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