The general situation and the weakness of health systems in these countries provide ideal conditions for the introduction and development of this revolting traffic by criminals who are only concerned with gain, ignoring the damage they wreak.
- The lack of access to high quality medicines:
The accessibility of legal medical products is a key problem in many countries, notably in Africa.
The price of medication is beyond the reach for many whose salary is barely sufficient for food. This, coupled with frequent stock shortages resulting from haphazard organization, and the need to import a large number of medical products, lead patients to uncontrolled parallel sources (which are inundated by falsified medicines) in an effort to find treatment for the illnesses.
- The complexity of distribution systems:
The complexity of distribution channels increases the chances of falsified medication entering legal markets. Their utter illegibility prevents effective control. This results in them becoming prime targets for criminals and traffickers.
Furthermore, multiple intermediaries and supply sources renders traceability impossible and encourages corruption. In Africa it has taken on endemic proportions. The complexity of channels is often so great that it is impossible to find the person who looked the other way and allowed falsified medicines to enter the system.
- Lack of means for regulatory authorities:
Controlling the channels is that much more difficult in that regulatory authorities often are cruelly lacking both financial and human means to accomplish their task.
In addition, in developing countries with limited resources, the pharmaceutical sector is not the only one that requires additional means. Administrative organizations, the police force, customs, all suffer from inadequate staff, training, and financing. They are all affected and necessary in an effective battle against falsified medical products.
- Porous borders:
This is the result of the precedent point and completes it. Borders are easily breached when there is a lack of material and financial means for customs officials, unclear organization, and ineffectual legislation. This limits monitoring and facilitates the import-export of falsified medication.
- Weak sanctions:
Certain countries have no laws punishing counterfeiting and are helpless in their fight against falsified medicine, despite the major risk they represent for public health.
This legislative void exists in both developed and developing countries, though it is more glaring in the latter.
The debate concerning the definition of “falsified medical products” is one of the many causes. It has yet to be clearly settled …
This legislative breach encourages criminals because undercuts any active battle against traffickers due to lack of sanctions.
Developing countries are the biggest victims of the traffic of falsified medical products; but they do not always have sufficient means to protect themselves. The international community must react. International cooperation is vital to effectively battle the scourge and protect populations.