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WHO launches initiative to wipe out global trade of fake medicines

Friday, November 17, 2006 by: Ben Kage
Tags: the WHO, counterfeit prescription drugs, counterfeit drugs

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(NewsTarget) The World Health Organization and its international partners are cracking down on bogus medicines with a new initiative, launched at the first meeting of the International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskfoce (IMPACT) on Wednesday.

The new strategy -- piloted by WHO and partners such as Interpol, the European Commission, the World Customs Organization, and 17 others -- plans to develop guidelines for countries to draft legislation pertinent to the gravity of medicine counterfeiting and new information sharing techniques.

According to WHO, counterfeit medicines can range from products that contain no active ingredients, to those that may also contain highly toxic substances that can cause drug resistance and, in some cases, death. Figures from the organization project that more than 30 percent of drugs sold in areas of Latin America, Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are fakes.

Right now, the proportion of counterfeit medicines in emerging economies is at roughly 10 percent, according to WHO estimates, but that number could reach 20 percent in many former Soviet republics. While fake medicines make up less than one percent of sales in wealthy countries, where stronger regulations are in place, WHO said that 50 percent of medicines sold illegally on the internet are counterfeit.

"The impact on people's lives behind these figures is devastating," said Dr. Howard Zucker, WHO assistant director general for Health Technology and Pharmaceuticals. "Whether rich or poor, many patients who trustingly taking medicines may end up sicker or die. In addition, precious resources spent on these medicines go to waste."

"I applaud the WHO's effort to rid the world of fake medicines, and I encourage them to start right at the source: the drug companies themselves," said Mike Adams, a consumer health advocate and critic of Big Pharma. "The vast majority of medicines now being promoted to consumers in the United States -- including ADHD drugs, antidepressants, cancer drugs, diabetes drugs, statin drugs and HRT drugs -- are based on fraudulent research, FDA corruption and promotional hype.

"The fake drugs are the ones being advertised on television, claiming treatment for diseases that don't even exist," said Adams. "The fake drugs are the ones approved by the FDA using decision panels with undisclosed financial ties to the manufacturers of those same drugs.

If the WHO wants to rid the world of fake drugs, all they have to do is come to America, turn on the television and start watching the Big Pharma advertisements. Those are the fake drugs we should be confiscating from the marketplace, and the manufacturers, distributors and pushers of those fake drugs are the criminals we should be pursuing for prosecution," he said. "It is these FDA-approved medicines that are killing Americans by the hundreds of thousands. These are not real medicines; they only pretend to be medicines. They are the counterfeits."


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