Given the growing threat of counterfeit drugs around the world, the Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) goes to great lengths to inform and educate consumers, health care professionals and policymakers about this multifaceted issue.
Most recently, we submitted recommendations to the office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC) following its request for comments regarding the costs to the U.S. economy resulting from intellectual property (IP) violations and the threats to public health and safety created by the infringement—as well as recommendations for improving the government’s IP enforcement efforts.
How do counterfeit medicines fit into this conversation? It’s simple. Counterfeit versions of protected pharmaceuticals defraud consumers and deny patients the therapies that can alleviate suffering. In too many cases, we’ve seen counterfeit drugs cause great harm—and even death—to those who take them.
In addition to reiterating recommendations we’ve made to protect consumers from counterfeit drugs on the Internet, we urged IPEC coordination with law enforcement, as well as funding and authority for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop programs to tighten the drug supply chain. This includes more FDA onshore agency support and authority. Disturbingly, the U.S. currently has 300 custom ports and the FDA only has 200 port inspectors—and a mere 17 inspectors to cover all international mail centers.
As we said in our recommendations, collaboration with IPEC to coordinate and implement policies is not only wanted, but certainly needed. While the Web and social media platforms have changed the way the pharmaceuticals industry interacts with American consumers, it has also created new threats by way of unlicensed pharmacies, SPAM and sellers of counterfeit and substandard drugs. It’s going to take all of us working together to mitigate this threat here at home and abroad.
See the PSM’s full response to IPEC’s call for public comments regarding the Joint Strategic Plan.