Decision by European Parliament gives front-line customs agents the power to seize suspected counterfeit medications that cross their border even if they are in transit to a different country.

The European Parliament passed a draft law making it easier for customs authorities to intercept counterfeit medications that pass in transit between European Union member nations. Currently, suspected counterfeit medicine passing only in transit through a European Union member nation must be shipped to its final destination, even if customs agents suspect the authenticity of the medications, reports the World Intellectual Property Review. The vote was 631 in favor, 19 against, 25 abstentions. The agreement needs to be formally approved by the European Council in the upcoming weeks. After approval, member states have 30 months to implement the directive within their national laws.

The Partnership For Safe Medicines’ Board Member, Tom Kubic, President & CEO of the Pharmaceutical Security Institute, supported this new change to EU law, “This would be a major step in ensuring safe medicines are not only available in Europe but also in other parts of the world.”

The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) supports the change, stating “The global trade of counterfeits has been growing exponentially and the lack of adequate rules at EU level has exacerbated the problem affecting companies, governments and citizens across Europe. Indeed, the 2012 detention statistics from EU customs have shown an unprecedented and extremely worrying fall by 65% on the year before. Without robust rules to stem the tide, the risk of the EU being a hub for the trade of counterfeits is real.”

Learn more about how counterfeit drug gangs exploit global trade and what patients can do to protect themselves from fake drugs by exploring our Required Reading List for Policy Makers on Counterfeit Drugs.

By S. Imber