Step up action to tackle substandard and falsified medical products. Urgent call for “fake busters”

Press Release

Geneva, 25 November 2021

  • Fight the Fakes Alliance is holding its 4th annual public campaign under the slogan “Health is not a hoax – Fight the Fakes” from December 6 to 12.
  • We are urging the general public, doctors, nurses, researchers, wholesalers, pharmaceutical executives, medical and pharmacy students, as well as the international community to speak out against the threat that substandard and falsified medical products pose to public health.
  • Substandard and falsified medical products have been a serious yet neglected global health issue for far too many years: they affect a wide range of medicines for all therapeutic areas, cause serious harm to patients, fail to treat diseases and fuel antimicrobial resistance and drug-resistant infections.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a surge of fake products in its wake, putting patient safety and health systems at risk and highlighting the boundless reach of criminal activities in this area.

Geneva, 25 November 2021 – ‘Health is not a hoax – Fight the Fakes’ is this year’s Fight the Fakes Week slogan. The aim is to highlight how substandard and falsified medicines pose serious risks to people’s health and have dire consequences for the wellbeing of communities and individual countries’ socio-economic stability. They deserve far greater attention within international fora.

Fight the Fakes Alliance invites organizations and individuals around the world to become ‘fake busters’ for this year’s Fight the Fakes Week, between 6 and 12 December, and help raise awareness about the dangers involved.

Substandard and falsified medicines may sometimes have tragic consequences. They contribute to the development of the second global health emergency after COVID-19: antimicrobial resistance and drug-resistant infections. They create mistrust in medicines, healthcare professionals and healthcare systems and block an individual country’s socio-economic development. The problem is at its most acute in low- and middle-income countries with estimates suggesting as many as 1 in 10 medical products are either substandard or falsified.

From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, diagnostic tests, personal protective equipment (PPE), potential therapeutics and vaccines have been found to be falsified across the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) has published several medical product alerts related to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments over the past two years while the Infectious Diseases Data Observatory is collecting hundreds of reports from the public domain about substandard and falsified COVID-19 medical products and COVID-19 vaccines.

As the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccination gathers pace, criminals are capitalizing on any shortages or access barriers but also on the waves of hesitancy when it comes to vaccines. This may also accelerate the spread of fake products that are non-COVID-19-related, proving a thriving global business in substandard and falsified medical products with no regard for health impacts.


Further information about this year’s Fight the Fakes Week can be found here.

If you have any questions, please reach out the Fight the Fakes Secretariat at

[1] Antimicrobial resistance a ‘global health emergency,’ UN, ahead of awareness week,

[2] 1 in 10 medical products in developing countries is substandard or falsified,

[3] Full List of WHO Medical Product Alerts,

[4] Medicine Quality Research Group,

 About Fight the Fakes Alliance

The Fight the Fakes Alliance (aka ‘Fight the Fakes’) is a multi-stakeholder non-profit association that aims to raise awareness about the dangers of falsified and substandard medicines. It gives a voice to those who have been personally impacted and shares the stories of those working to put a stop to this threat to public health. It seeks to build a global movement of organizations and individuals who will shine a light on the threat these so-called medicines pose to patient safety and health systems and to achieving universal health coverage. Fight the Fakes’ diverse membership shares the belief that coordination among all stakeholders working along the medical supply chain is essential if we are to tackle this global health threat.

Membership of the FTF Alliance is open to business and non-profit organizations, as well as academic institutions and youth groups. Private sector companies can join the Alliance as corporate partners via a separate membership scheme. Please contact for further information.