Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) Joins with Irish Patients Association to Combat Counterfeit Medicine Threat

T.D Minister for Health Mary Harney Attends International Dialogue with Leading Industry, Health, Government Officials, Regulators, Law Enforcement and Patient Advocates

DUBLIN (June 4, 2010) – Citing a growing, public and borderless health threat posed by the availability of primarily counterfeit prescription medicines around the globe, the Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) today joined with the Irish Patients Association (IPA) to urge the development of a strong public-private partnership across Ireland and the European Union.

“Make no mistake, this is a decades-old challenge that has direct implications for the safety of the Irish and European drug supply,” Scott LaGanga, executive director of PSM, told the gathering. “By soliciting ideas from all concerned stakeholders, including industry, government and patients who rely on life-saving medicines every day, we can implement collaborative solutions that address the problem head on.”

“Stated simply, counterfeit drugs deny patients therapies that can alleviate suffering and save lives,” said Stephen McMahon, Chairman of the IPA. “Only through strong public-private partnerships working nationally and internationally can we achieve a positive and long-term outcome.”

According to data by the Pharmaceutical Security Institute (PSI), drug counterfeiting has increased by 9.2 percent worldwide over the past year. Other key survey findings include:

  • Variety of Pharmaceutical Products Increasing: There were 808 types of counterfeit pharmaceutical products identified in 2009, up more than 36 percent from 2008.
  • Geographical Locations More Diverse: Counterfeits were detected in 118 countries in 2008.
  • Counterfeit Drugs Going Wholesale: In 531 incidents, counterfeit products reached licensed wholesale distributors and/or pharmacies in 48 different countries. 472 of the 978 counterfeit medicine seizures made by law enforcement were of “commercial” size.

A recent report titled ‘Cracking Counterfeit Europe’, ranked Ireland sixth worst in Europe for counterfeit medicine activity. The same report also found that the counterfeit medicines market in Ireland could be worth more than €86m a year.

“As we have seen by joint collaborative efforts led by the Partnership around the globe in countries ranging from India to Ireland, if we make the right decisions and strategic choices today, we have an opportunity to reverse these trends and ensure the safety of the Irish people for decades to come,” LaGanga concluded.

About PSM:
Comprised of more than 60 non-profit organizations, the Partnership for Safe Medicines is a
public health group committed to the safety of prescription medicines and protecting consumers against counterfeit, substandard or otherwise unsafe medicines.

Media Contact:
Sean Donahue