Nigeria-bound HIV/AIDS Drugs Seized in Netherlands View larger map What: On November 12, 2008, Dutch authorities seized a shipment of Indian-made abacavir—an antiretroviral drug for HIV/AIDS treatment—bound for Nigeria. The abacavir tablets were found to violate patent rules and were declared counterfeit; however it’s been disputed whether the drugs were actually counterfeit. The Financial Times reported that “dozens” of HIV patients were…

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Counterfeit drugs are a global problem that requires an international solution. In fact, an international cooperative effort is already underway with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce (IMPACT).

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Bryan A.  Liang, MD, PhD, JD

Often understanding a problem begins with a definition.  The World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), meets each May to discuss public health issues and determine future WHO policies.  This year, WHO's constituted International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce (IMPACT) introduced a resolution to update WHO's definition of a counterfeit medicine.  IMPACT proposed changing the definition from "deliberately and fraudulently" mislabeling a medicine's identity and source to the "false representation" of a medical product's identity, history or source.

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A recent newspaper headline caught my eye. It said that in some poor countries a staggering 60 percent of medicines are fake. Thankfully, the World Health Organization, now led by our own very able Mrs Margaret Chan (she was previously Hong Kong’s Director of Health), is trying hard to control the scandalous trade in counterfeit…

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