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Fondation Chirac Hosts Fake Medicines Meeting

The Fondation Chirac held a roundtable on counterfeit medications at the two day conference, European Development Days (EDD) in Brussels on December 7th, entitled “How to Fight False Medicines.”

The panelists discussed cooperative measures to strengthen countries administrative capacities, build better health care facilities and raise awareness that fake drugs are dangerous to their countries’ peoples.

Said African entrepreneur and philanthropist Mo Ibrahim, “This is worse than drugs. People who buy heroin or cocaine, at least they know what they are buying, they are exercising their decision-making. But someone who has a heart or a kidney condition who buys fake medicine – this is an attempt at murder.”

The Fondation Chirac held a roundtable on counterfeit medications at the two day conference, European Development Days (EDD) in Brussels on December 7th, entitled “How to Fight False Medicines.”

After opening remarks by Blaise Compaoré, President of Burkina Faso , Dr Mo Ibrahim, Founder and Chairman of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Louis Michel, Co-Chair, ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and Thomas Boni Yayi, President of Benin, a roundtable on the state of governance and access to quality medicine was held. Vice-President of the European Parliament Isabelle Durant, Dr. Mo Ibrahim, Secretary General of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Hilde Johnson, Deputy Director of the French Development Agency Didier Mercier, and Deputy Chair of the African Union Commission Erastus Mwencha, participated in the panel, moderated by Jean-Michel Severino, President of the French Water Partnership.

The panelists discussed cooperative measures to strengthen countries administrative capacities, build better health care facilities and raise awareness that fake drugs are dangerous to their countries’ peoples.

Said Boni Yayi, “This is a challenge for public health and a challenge for the development of African countries particularly. Medicines are important for the whole structure of public health. They are precious in preventing disease and precious in curing disease so everything must be done to ensure their quality, that they do no harm and do their job efficiently.”

Yet the trade in fake and counterfeit medicines continues, he said, noting that fake drugs affect 85% of Benin’s population. “One finds on the internet and one finds on the street markets huge quantities of these fake medicines and this trade must be eradicated,” he said.

Calling for an increase in spending on health and an increase in contributions to the World Health Organization, Michel said the fight against diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis, measles and malaria is being “undermined by this rampant trade, which must be wiped out.”

Dr Mo Ibrahim, Founder and Chairman of the Foundation that bears his name, referred to the trade in fake medicines, which kills 200 thousand people a year, as “a silent killer.” He called for a fresh approach to the problem and for governments to “sharpen up” their act. “It sounds like an academic issue when as a matter of fact, according to Interpol, 65,000 people died as a result of terrorism over 40 years; this year 200,000 people died from the trade in fake medicine.”

Ibrahim said some countries treat trade in fake medicines as a tax evasion issue. “This is worse than drugs. People who buy heroin or cocaine, at least they know what they are buying, they are exercising their decision-making. But someone who has a heart or a kidney condition who buys fake medicine – this is an attempt at murder.”

Ibn Chambas said that African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States is very concerned about counterfeit drugs and will work collaboratively to tackle this real menace to the health of their populations by educating populations and building state agency capacity to effectively intercept fake medications and these drugs before they come in.

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