The Partnership for Safe Medicines
Weekly UpdateDecember 28, 2010
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Mobile phone based anti-counterfeiting technology initiatives have been announced in Ghana, Nigeria and India

In India, a New Delhi based start-up company, PharmaSecure has made its first deal with a major Indian drug manufacturer, Unichem Laboratories, to print random code on approximately 70 million pill packets. These codes can texted by customers to a phone number connected to a pharmaceutical database, where they will be cross-referenced and if a duplicate is identified, the customer is instantly warned, reports the Christian Science Monitor.

"There are hundreds of thousands of people dying, and there's something I can do about this. It felt like I didn't really have a choice to just walk away without at least investigating it and seeing if we could do something, seeing if it would be possible to build this," says Nathan Sigworth, who founded PharmaSecure after graduating in 2007 from Dartmouth College and moving to India, reports CSM.

In Nigeria and Ghana, HP and mPedigree Network have developed scratch codes that are being put on 500,000 medicine bottles and pill packets manufactured by May & Baker Nigeria and the KAMA Group of Ghana, reports Business Wire. Similar to PharmaSecure's method, consumers can text the code to a pharmaceutical database interface which will reveal the drug's authenticity.

May & Baker has already begun supplying Nigerian pharmacists with coded anti-malarial , anti-amoebicide and analgesic medication.

"Counterfeit pharmaceuticals are a big problem for developing nations, particularly in Africa. It is important that we developed an African solution to an African problem, using the resources and technologies that are widely available and easy to implement," said mPedigree Network 's founder, Bright Simons. "It's absolutely imperative that people can trust the authenticity of the drugs they are consuming, and this system will give them an easy and effective way of doing so."

Top News

EU: Authorities Regulate Internet Drug Sales

The European Union ambassadors approved an agreement to regulate medicines sold over the internet. The agreement approved by the EU ambassadors will create regulation intended to protect legal suppliers of medicine. New rules will require internet pharmacies to register with authorities in their home country and ensure that the products sold are licensed for sale in the country of purchase, reports The European Voice. Marisa Matias, a Portugese delegate, led the negotiations on the proposal. "The absence of a legal framework encourages not only counterfeiting but also counterfeiters, who are organized in highly profitable criminal networks," she said. (Partnership for Safe Medicines, December 23, 2010; Link here)

World News

Illinois: 40,000 Fake Pills Found in Chicago Suburb

An Illinois man has been charged with unlawful possession of 20,000 counterfeit Valium and 20,000 counterfeit Xanax. Computer business owner, Amin Rupani, has been charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance, reports the Cook County Sheriff's Office, after a joint investigation into his activities by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Customs and Border Patrol. The package was originally detained at customs after being identified as counterfeit valium, where a tracking device was attached to it by law enforcement agents. The Sheriff alleges that Rupani admitted to forwarding packages sent by his co-conspirator in Karachi, Pakistan, to addresses in Texas and California on a regular basis. Officers also recovered nine plastic bags containing an estimated 20,000 light green triangular pills, suspected counterfeit Xanax. (Partnership for Safe Medicines, December 22, 2010; Link here)


Cambodia: Phnom Penh Reports Illegal Pharmacy Crackdown

The Cambodian Ministry of Health reported a 92% decrease in the number of illegal pharmacies nationwide and a 71% fewer unlicensed health clinics over the past year, on December 22, 2010. Ministry Secretary Heng Taykry said that the number of illegal pharmacies decreased from 1,420 to 111 in the past year and the number of illegal health clinics dropped from 1,055 to 305 in the same period, reports The Phnom Penh Post. Heng Taykry said, "Although we are still faced with the problems of counterfeit drugs, illegal pharmacies and illegal clinics, we are happy to see the decline. These statistics are the result of health officers' diligent efforts to combat counterfeit drugs, illegal pharmacies and illegal clinics." Free treatment is key to the success of the containment effort because "free treatment and care helps to undermine the sale of counterfeit and substandard antimalarial drugs," states WHO in the "Global Report on Antimalarial Drug Efficacy And Drug Resistance: 2000-2010." (Partnership for Safe Medicines, December 24, 2010; Link here)


Tanzania: Fake Drugs Impounded in Tanzania

Approximately 1.2 million vials of substandard drugs have been impounded in Tanzania by the Food and Drug Authority (TFDA). The TFDA impounded vials of injectable counterfeit antibiotics, gentamicin, used to treat E. coli, salmonella, shigella, pneumonia, staphylococcus and pelvic inflammatory disease, among others. An anonymous tip alerted TFDA Eastern Zone manager, Florent Kyombo, to intervene before large quantities of the medicine were distributed to outlets, reported The Tanzanian Citizen. Though 1.2 million vials were removed, the largest action in TFDA history, 37,000 vials of the suspect medicine are reported to be in the public market. TFDA has directed the manufacturer to immediately recall and withdraw all the vials it may have already distributed to the market. Kyombo said that all the banned vials would be destroyed under TFDA supervision. (Partnership for Safe Medicines, December 22, 2010; Link here)

ExL Pharma's Life Sciences Serialization & Traceability For Brand Management

When: Jan 24 - 25 2011

Where: Philadelphia, PA

Description: A summit with the key-stakeholders from the pharmaceutical supply chain to discuss a strategy for addressing three different, yet intertwined, areas - counterfeiting, brand protection and regulatory compliance. With international requirements already in place in countries like Turkey and France and potential federal mandates on the horizon here in the U.S., development of a mandatory compliant (fully serialized and pedigree-ready) supply chain is on the radar. View the full conference program.

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