Counterfeit drugs have become a $200-billion-a-year industry and the 176-nation World Customs Organisation (WCO) will sign a declaration later this month to fight the scourge, an official said on Thursday (Source: Reuters).
Fake or substandard versions of medicines are often hidden in cargoes sent on circuitous routes to mask their country of origin. “We have more fakes than real drugs in the market,” said Christophe Zimmermann, the WCO’s anti-counterfeiting and piracy coordinator. “In 2007-2008 alone, it rose 596 percent.”
The World Trade Organisation says fake anti-malaria drugs kill 100,000 Africans a year and the black market deprives governments of 2.5-5 percent of their revenue.
The Brussels-based WCO represents customs operations globally and has joined with former French president’s Jacques Chirac’s foundation to raise awareness at upper echelons to curtail the illicit industry.
Fake medicines often contain the wrong or toxic ingredients and pose a growing health threat worldwide, especially in poor countries where drugs are sold to treat conditions such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV.
“If these subjects are not dealt with and strong action not taken, they will be a source of conflict,” said Catherine Joubert, director general of the Fondation Chirac, adding that so far 30 groups had signed the declaration.
In a sign Europe is taking the issue seriously too, justice ministers on the Council of Europe are set to ratify a convention on counterfeit medicines in Istanbul this November.
Filed under: Counterfeit drugs, Public health | Tagged: Africa, AIDS, Counterfeit drugs, counterfeit medicines, malaria, substandard medicines, tuberculosis, World Customs Organization, World Trade Organization | Leave a Comment »