Falsifying medicine around the world is not a recent phenomenon. It is a scourge that is only getting worse. Though major international operations grab media attention, the root of the problem is rarely addressed, if at all. Neither developing countries who suffer severely nor developed countries have set aside room in medical and pharmaceutical curricula for the issue. And this despite the fact that the counterfeiters have demonstrated limitless stores of imagination and are taking advantage of the rise of new technologies to develop their deadly trade on every continent.
Raising awareness about this growing threat is a vital step in implementing an effective battle against falsified medicines. Such awareness is needed at all levels!
Since 2009 and President Chirac’s Cotonou Declaration, the Fondation Chirac has appealed to political authorities at the international level in the hopes of encouraging heads of State and the competent authorities to collaborate and take decisive measures that are on par with the threat that is facing us all.
To improve access to quality medicines and health care, the general public must be informed of the possible health risks posed by falsified medicines. As buying habits change and many consumers are turning towards the Internet to purchase medication, we need to communicate clearly on the dangers inherent in obtaining medicine off the Internet as well as other non-conventional (and potentially unauthorized) venues such as the open air markets and stands in Africa.
Radio and video programs are being developed and organizations such as Fight the Fakes and ASOP (Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies) are offering platforms where actors in the fight against falsified medicine and victims of the scourge can exchange and share their experiences and information.
Finally, health professionals have the duty to engage in the fight to protect their patients and Public Health. Their proximity with both patients and medical products gives them an impressive impact in communication, the transmission of information, and detecting falsified products. To best wield this power, they need to be trained and informed.
The battle against falsified medicines requires cooperation and action at the international and local levels. Thanks to mobile apps that allow consumers to check the authenticity of medication, anyone can now join the fight. However, for it to be effective, communication and information for everyone must become a priority.