In February 2006, the World Health Organization launched the International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce (IMPACT) to build coordinated efforts between countries to address the great deal of harm from fake medicines around the globe.
This is no minimal bureaucratic effort. IMPACT is a partnership of all the major stakeholders: international organizations, non-governmental advocacy and patient groups, law enforcement, pharmaceutical manufacturers and their trade associations, as well as government drug regulatory authorities.

This week, IMPACT members are meeting in Lisbon to review findings and recommendations for how to turn the tide on the growing dangers of counterfeit drugs. These are available in a draft background paper for discussion and finalization of principles that could serve legislation for all WHO member states. The draft paper, “Draft Principles and Elements for National Legislation against Counterfeit Medical Products” can be found at:
http://www.who.int/impact/events/Principles_ElementsforNationalLegisl…

An important recommendation of the draft report is a call for governments around the world to adopt a tougher stand against the perpetrators of counterfeit medicines that reflects the “gravity” of their offenses. This includes introducing severe criminal sanctions against its perpetrators regardless of evidence of specific harm caused to others-something I’ve called for in the past, given the potentially dire consequences – including death – of consumers unknowingly using counterfeit drugs.

I will be keeping a close eye on the outcome of this week’s meeting and hope that members of IMPACT adopt these and other patient safety oriented recommendations.

In the meantime, my old call: remember to protect yourself and your family! You are the last barrier to harm!

Tools on this website can help you:

  • Download the SAFE DRUG checklist to learn how to avoid, deter, and report suspected counterfeit drugs.
  • Sign up for the SAFEMEDS EMAIL ALERT SYSTEM, which broadcasts FDA Counterfeit Alert Network notices as soon as they come out.
  • If you do buy drugs online, only use Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (click here), that are accredited by The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s (NABP) as legitimate pharmacies.