Anti-counterfeiting Initiative: Promoting the Quality of Medicines

As incidents and awareness surrounding illicit and counterfeit drugs grows, so too do the programs and technologies to combat them.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be examining just that: anti-counterfeit technologies and the programs designed to support them. While there’s no silver bullet technology or program to mitigate the global threat of counterfeit drugs, a combination of technologies, programs and laws to protect patients and punish criminals is needed to help reduce this hazard to public health.

The Promoting the Quality of Medicines (PQM) program is one initiative deserving of mention. This cooperative effort between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Pharmacopeia Convention (USP) was developed in late 2009.

The goal of the PQM program is to improve the safety of medicines in 28 countries across the globe by working with regulatory agencies, increasing the supply of legitimate products, reducing the availability of counterfeits through testing and other methods, and increasing public awareness about the dangers of counterfeit medicines.

According to the USP’s statement on the partnership, the PQM program will build upon the work of the Drug Quality and Information (DQI) program, which was successful in:

  • Establishing the first large-scale continuous drug monitoring program in Africa, Asia and Latin America
  • Increasing capacity to address gaps in Asia’s quality assurance of medicines
  • Helping the Global Drug Facility in efforts to increase the availability of anti-tuberculosis medicines at affordable prices

The PQM program aims to expand on these activities in Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa.

When asked about the value of programs like PQM, the Partnership for Safe Medicines President (PSM) Marv Shepherd said, “We’ve said many times that collaboration at the international level is essential to combating this very real threat from which no country is immune.”

Referencing the counterfeit antimalarials that came to a DQI sentinel site last July, Shepherd added, “We’ve seen how cooperatives like the PQM program can reduce the risk of patient contact with counterfeit drugs, through drug monitoring and public awareness.”

The global reach of counterfeit drugs will be one key issue discussed at the PSM’s 2010 Interchange on Oct. 8, 2010, which will bring together patient groups, health care providers, industry experts, enforcement personnel, policymakers and regulatory experts.

You can learn more about the PQM program at