Today the Executive Board of the World Health Organisation (WHO) discussed the issue of substandard/spurious/falsely labelled/falsified/counterfeit (SSFFC) medical products. Counterfeit medicines threaten health systems worldwide. Many countries stressed the need for enhanced regulatory capacity to be achieved, in particular, by fostering regulatory convergence.

During her opening address on Monday 20 January, Director-General of WHO, Dr. Margaret Chan, made reference to the regulatory challenge posed by counterfeit medicines stating:

“The need for stronger systems for regulatory control and enforcement runs like a common thread through many of your documents, whether concerning antimicrobial resistance, the mandatory notification of diseases, or access to opioid analgesics for palliative care. For medicines, only around 20% of our Member States have a well-functioning regulatory authority, 50% have variable regulatory quality, and 30% have virtually no or only very limited capacity.”

The need for improved anti-counterfeiting legislation was also stressed by some countries. Ecuador highlighted the changes brought to their criminal code to include the manufacturing of counterfeit medicines as an offense.

The sale of fake medicines via the internet is a growing problem: South Korea pointed out the growing numbers of illegitimate online pharmacies selling SSFFC medicines to unsuspecting consumers, often putting the patient’s life in danger.

EB countries welcomed the report of the second meeting of the Member State Mechanism including the proposed workplan and related list of actions, activities and behaviours that result in SSFFC.



To read Dr. Chan’s full address click here and to read the Executive Board report on SSFFC medical products click here.

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