The Partnership for Safe Medicines
Weekly UpdateJuly 6, 2010
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Handheld Device Fighting Counterfeit Drugs In Nigeria

While there is no silver bullet to solving the counterfeit drug problem, anti-counterfeiting technologies are showing promise.

Earlier this spring, SecuringPharma reported that Thermo Fisher Scientific's handheld TruScan spectrometers have been used in operations that have led to the seizure of more than 60,000 counterfeit medicines since being their deployment in Nigeria.

Weighing less than four pounds, the point-and-shoot spectrometer allows the user to obtain verification of a substance through its packaging and will render a PASS/FAIL result to verify the contents. The scan typically takes about 30 seconds.

SecuringPharma reported that a shipment of fake antimalarial tablets, worth around $67,000, was intercepted using the TruScan device earlier this year. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently reported that drug-resistant maladies like malaria are on the rise, with counterfeit and illicit drugs accounting for part of the blame. Easy-use devices like the TruScan spectrometer can help weed out counterfeits before they get to the patient.

The ease of use has also allowed law enforcement officials to be nimble in apprehending suspects. Prior to the use of the TruScan devices, suspect samples had to be sent to a central laboratory for testing-and could take days to obtain a result. Now, the TruScan devices are being used at Nigeria's border control agency, as well as by Nigeria's National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) inspectors for on-the-spot screening of drugs at markets and pharmacies.

Nigeria's use of innovative anti-counterfeiting measures-such as joining technology with aggressive public awareness initiatives-is an important example of how public and private efforts can together address public health threats," said Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) Vice President, Bryan Liang, MD, PhD, JD. "They set a good example for other countries where health systems and patient safety are gravely threatened by counterfeit medicines."

According to NAFDAC, the campaign against counterfeits is working-the proportion of fake medicines in circulation is said to be down from 42 percent to 16 percent.

Take a look at the TruScan fact sheet to learn more about the device and see it in use.
Top News

Creator of Illegal Online Pharmacy faces Prison Time


David Allen Vogel, a 49-year-old New York pharmacist, was halted last week in his pursuit of riches which led to a Web-based pain clinic he founded in Texas in 2000. Vogel joined the ranks of other unscrupulous pharmacists who made millions by illegally selling drugs online. The unraveling of the scam is another sign of a burgeoning illicit industry of doctors and pharmacists illegally dispensing prescription drugs. Vogel's Web sales concentrated on hydrocodone along with some sales of other drugs like Xanax and Soma. Vogel attempted to make his operation appear more legitimate by having his doctor review customers' online questionnaires and then do a four-minute telephone consultation. However, authorities say none of the patient information was verified and the doctor never did a face-to-face examination. In order to by safe drugs, consumers should look out for such indicators and check with V.I.P.P.S. to ensure that a given website is safe and dependable. ("Drug Scam May Lead to a View that has Bars," Houston Chronicle, July 5, 2010; Story here)
World News

Nigeria: Customs Turns in Importer of Counterfeit Drugs


Nigeria's Customs Service turned in a suspected importer of counterfeit drugs and contraband textiles to the National Agency for Food, Drugs and Control (NAFDAC). NAFDAC will investigate the suspect, Mrs Anyaoha Ngozi Margret, who was arrested last weekend at the airport with 12 bags of unapproved 500mg CIPRO tabs. The Customs Service Comptroller stated that dealing counterfeit drugs "is really a very bad and sad way of making money while killing innocent Nigerians. It should be noted that importation of pharmaceuticals are allowed by law. These items are...not banned but there is a procedure such as registration of NAFDAC etc." ("Nigeria: Customs FCT Command Hands Fake Drugs Importer to NAFDAC," All Africa, June 29, 2010; Story here)



Sierra Leone: Impact of Counterfeit Drugs on Par with Terrorism


The registrar of the pharmacy board of Sierra Leone has equated counterfeit drugs with terrorism due the many deaths caused by these counterfeits. In speaking to reporters he pointed out that drug counterfeiting was not a new phenomenon and decried its impact saying "it is a murder perpetuated by faceless money makers." He pointed out that fake drugs can lead to treatment problems, organ dysfunction and damage, worsening chronic disease condition, and cause early death. The pharmacy board registrar maintained that some patients no longer respond to treatment as a result of the frequent intake of counterfeit drugs which reduce their immune system. ("Sierra Leone: 'Counterfeit Drugs Are as Dangerous as Terrorists' Pharmacy Board Registrar," All Africa, June 28, 2010; Story here)


Anti-counterfeiting Americas (Boston, USA)
When: Wednesday, Sep 8, 2010
Where: Boston, USA
Description: Link here

PSM's Inaugural 2010 Interchange
When: Friday, Oct 8, 2010
Where: Washington, D.C.
Description: The Partnership for Safe Medicines invites you to save the date for an intimate conference bringing together patient groups, providers, pharmaceutical company quality experts, enforcement personnel, policymakers, regulatory agency experts and other interested parties to discuss key issues around counterfeit drugs andother unsafe medicines. Link 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