Lower risks to patients, higher risks for traffickers
Even though it has reached alarming proportions, global traffic in fake drugs is not a fatality.
Around the world, Governments, health agencies, associations and pharmaceutical laboratories in turn are taking individual or concerted actions that are effectively stemming the scourge and better protecting populations. These approaches are extremely varied and complementary, aiming to foster more ethical behaviour, to increase vigilance or to secure the pharmaceutical products and their supply lines. If such measures could be coordinated on a large scale and optimized in a comprehensive global strategy, the risk balance would certainly sway in favour of the patients and to the detriment of the traffickers.
1. Informing, training and advising healthcare professionals.
The health profession embraces all professionals involved in the conception, production, regulation, distribution and marketing of medicines or in health care. From the pharmaceutical laboratory that produces the medicines to the patient consumer, all these professionals (doctors, wholesaler or retailer pharmacists, nurses, auxiliaries and administrative personnel) are qualified intermediaries who are ideally placed to track down false medicines.
2. Securing the supply chains.
In South America and its hospitals, in the UK, in China, in the United States or in Pakistan and its pharmacies, in online pharmacies on the internet…
Around the world, on a more or less large scale (from isolated incidents to dismantled networks), the discovery of fake medicines in official supply networks attests to the continuous necessity to improve the security of local and international distribution channels.
3. Organizing vigilance, monitoring incidents and systematizing feedback.
In order to contribute effectively to securing health systems, quality information must be collected and widely communicated and the players must be very reactive in treating the information they receive.
4. Facilitating access to authentic medicines in developing countries.
One of most effective means of prevention is to better meet the demand for authentic drugs in developing countries.
Many actions are thus undertaken to limit the retail prices of medicines for the most disadvantaged populations.
A transfer of know-how between developed and emerging countries allows local laboratories to improve the quality of their pharmaceutical products in the respect of industrial property rights.
5. Educate and communicate to the general public.
Among the factors promoting the proliferation of fake drugs, the lack of awareness of patients and the general lack of information concerning the risks are a major concern.
The need to fill this gap is even more urgent in emerging countries where the penetration rates of false medicines and the weaknesses in the health systems are the greatest. Therefore, informing the patient, who is by nature always victim and never complicit in the trafficking, is the ultimate bolster to halt the pandemic.