The Partnership for Safe Medicines
Weekly Update January 18, 2010
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European Coding System Looks to Combat Counterfeits: Part One 

Coming up, the conclusion of our interview with Anthony Barron. In the meantime, learn more about the EFPIA's coding project and visit our Consumer Resources section for tips on protecting yourself from substandard and counterfeit drugs.

In October 2009, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) announced its pilot project-a coding system aimed at reducing the risk of counterfeit drugs dispensed to patients.

PSM: PSM covers counterfeit drug incidents, which we map out for folks online. It's hard not to notice that a fair amount of counterfeit incidents occur in Europe. How dire is the counterfeit drug situation in the European Union (EU)?

Anthony Barron: Counterfeit medicines have become an increasing threat around the world, especially where regulatory and enforcement systems are the weakest. Figures show that this trend is no longer restricted to developing countries, with Europe seeing a growing number of cases of counterfeit medicines. Within the EU, we've seen an increase in the numbers of counterfeit incidents from 202 in 2006 to 347 in 2008.

The UK Medicines Health products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has also reported that incidents affecting the regular distribution chain have steadily increased since 2004, with counterfeit medicine reaching patients on nine occasions.

PSM: The EFPIA is partnering with pharmaceutical retailers and local wholesalers on the coding system-how is this teamwork instrumental in the success of the project?

AB: Our objective was to collaborate on a coding solution that was effective, technically robust, cost-effective for manufacturers, wholesalers and pharmacists alike and could work for the long-term.

An end-to-end product verification system at the point of dispense (i.e. a pharmacy or hospital) seemed like the best way meet this criteria while providing a good scope for improving supply chain security and patient safety. A more efficient identification of products may also lead to more effective product recalls in case of an alert.
World News


Mexico: Counterfeit Drugs Dominate Illicit Pharmaceutical Trade


Mexico's pharmaceutical industry faces unique challenges. Illicit activity in Mexico's pharmaceutical industry is estimated at $1.9 billion per year - 12 percent of the formal market. Counterfeit drugs account for 80 percent of the illicit market.  In 2004, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration detected over 200 online pharmacies operating along the U.S.-Mexico border.  In order to thwart the illicit trade, Mexico's Federal Commission for Protection Against Health Risks (COFEPRIS) banned all online pharmacies, including legitimate firms. ("Mexico's Shadow Pharma Market," Latin Business Chronicle, January 11, 2010; Story here)



India: Database Seeks to Curb Counterfeit Drug Sales


In a first-of-its kind initiative in the country, a Bangalore-based organization is setting up a database of counterfeit and sub-standard drugs, said Mr. Gundurao, president of Karnataka Drug and Chemist Association (KDCA). The KDCA has begun compiling a list of drugs certified substandard by the Drugs Control Authority on its website. "It is to curb the sale of counterfeit drugs that such a database is needed. It could be shared by all drug-control agencies of the state, while the citizens could benefit from the information that could save lives," said Gundurao. ("Online Database to Check Fake Drug Use," Expressbuzz, January 13, 2010; Story here)



Pakistan: Counterfeit Drugs Recovered by Police


The Anti-Car Lifting Cell (ACLC) of the Islamabad Police recovered counterfeit drugs worth millions of rupees from a vehicle on Tuesday, January 12. The counterfeit drugs were being supplied to various drugstores in twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, posing a risk to consumers in the nation's capitol region. The medicines, which included Tazotine and Torane, were also falsely labeled. ("Fake drugs worth millions recovered," The News, January 13, 2010; Story here)

About the Partnership for Safe Medicines
The Partnership for Safe Medicines is a group of organizations and individuals that have policies, procedures, or programs to protect consumers from counterfeit or contraband medicines. For more information, please visit