FIP activities against counterfeit medicines
FIP first made a Statement of Policy on Counterfeit Medicines in 1999. Because of the growing and changing aspect of this major public healthcare issue, this policy statement was updated in 2003. This key document is a strong political message from the pharmacy profession in support of the fight against counterfeit medicines in order to protect the safety of patients.
In 2003 the Council of Europe established an ad hoc group to fight counterfeit medicines and, since 2004, FIP has worked within this group. In 2008, the group became the Committee of Experts on Minimising Public Health Risks posed by Counterfeiting Medical Products and Related Crimes (CD-P-PH/CMED).
This committee meets at least twice every year. The last meeting was held in November 2014; at which FIP gave a presentation on pharmacists’ contribution in fight against pharmaceutical crime.
FIP has worked with the Council of Europe by:
- Co-authoring a Model approach “Counterfeit medicines in Europe: Risk communication strategies for drug regulatory authorities” (2008).
- Contributing to publications including:
- Counterfeit Medicines — Facts and Case Studies. D. Di Giorgi Ed. Strasbourg: EDQM, 2009.
- Counterfeit Medicines — Facts and Practical Advice. D. Di Giorgi Ed. Strasbourg: EDQM, 2010.
- Counterfeit Medical Products and Similar Crimes — Risk Communication. D. Di Giorgi Ed. Strasbourg: EDQM, 2011.
Working with Fight the Fakes
In 2014, FIP became an official partner of Fight the Fakes. This is a campaign that aims to raise awareness about the dangers of counterfeit medicines. It aims to give a voice to those who have been personally impacted by these products and to share the stories of those working to put a stop to this threat to public health in order to prevent further negative outcomes on individuals. Fight the Fakes seeks to build a global movement of organisations and individuals who share the belief that coordination among all actors involved in the manufacturing and distribution of medicines is vital to tackle the problem of counterfeits.
FIP and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & AssociationsTop of Form (IFPMA) published in 2012 "The threat of false friends", a leaflet aimed at raising awareness of the dangers of counterfeit medicines, especially those acquired via the internet.
Copyright (C) 2008 Pharma Publishing
Working with IMPACT
In 2006, the World Health Organization established an international medical products anti-counterfeiting taskforce, IMPACT, which was a voluntary grouping of governments, organisations, institutions, agencies and associations from developing and developed countries aimed at sharing expertise, identifying problems, seeking solutions, coordinating activities and working towards the common goal of fighting counterfeit medical products. IMPACT aimed to ensure appropriate regional representation, including from developing countries.
FIP developed a framework for communication and also contributed to a practical handbook: “International medical products anti-counterfeiting taskforce (IMPACT) secretariat at AIFA: IMPACT. Facts, activities, documents 2006-2010”.
This project has now been completed.
Since the inception of IMPACT, FIP represented the World Health Professions Alliance (WHPA), leading its Working Group on Communications. A series of advocacy activities, including the development of materials, such as a WHPA toolkit on counterfeit medicines for health professionals and patients, have been undertaken. (See below.)
Working with the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (.Pharmacy web domain)
FIP is one of the key actors in the creation and supervision of the .pharmacy web domain. The development of this domain addresses global concern about illegal online medicines sellers distributing products that endanger patient health. Online sales of unregulated and counterfeit medicines are estimated at US$75bn per year and, according to World Health Organization, in over 50% of cases, drugs purchased over the internet from illegal sites that conceal their physical address have been found to be counterfeit. Restricting the use of .pharmacy domain names to legitimate website operators that meet internet pharmacy practice standards in the countries in which they operate means that patients will be able to know for sure that they are obtaining medicines (as well as health information and services) from websites that are authentic and safe.
This innovative approach goes beyond the use of a logo (which can always be copied and inserted on an illegal online pharmacy) because the authentication is included in the web address.
US applications for use of the .pharmacy generic top-level internet domain opened in November 2014, with other regions to follow. The .pharmacy plan has been produced by a global coalition of stakeholders led by the US National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.
Working with the World Health Professions Alliance
Communication toolkit FIP is one of the founding members of the World Health Professions Alliance (WHPA), which gathers organisations representing medical doctors, pharmacists, nurses, dentists and physical therapists.
In 2008, the alliance developed a communication toolkit to raise awareness of counterfeit medicines among health professionals, with tools and strategies for detecting counterfeits and informing colleagues and patients. This toolkit was renewed in 2010 with the slogan “Be aware, Take action”. It includes:
- General information fact sheets for health professionals, patients and public health advocates on counterfeit medical products.
- Campaign postcards
- Sample reporting form for health professionals
- Be aware, Take action poster
- A medicines checklist poster for waiting rooms and pharmacies
- A WHPA Joint Statement of Counterfeiting of Medical Products
- Frequently asked questions
Workshops Under the banner “Be aware, Take action” four regional workshops have been held by the WHPA with FIP’s contribution, gathering the five professions to stimulate joint action statements:
- San José, Costa Rica, 2010
- Abuja, Nigeria, 2010
- Taipei, China Taiwan, 2011
- Prague, Czech Republic, 2011
Around 50 follow-up activities were identified following these workshops
Grants In 2012, the WHPA also launched “combating counterfeit medical products small grants 2013/2014”. This programme aimed to support WHPA member organisations and WHPA-related student member organisations in developing innovative approaches to:- Implement the “WHPA Call to Action” in their countries- Improve collaboration among health professionals and patient organisations through establishing interprofessional
committees to combat counterfeit medical products in their countries- Advocate activities to health decision-makers and other key stakeholders- Encourage behavioural change among the public to only buy medical products from known and reliable sources
The following projects were selected to receive grants:- Ethiopia: Media campaign against counterfeit medical products- Philippines: Integration of counterfeit medicines education and vigilance in health professions education and CPD- Rwanda: Sensitisation campaign against illegal health practices and use of counterfeit medical products- Lesotho: Building capacity for stakeholder participation to the prevention of counterfeit medical products- Argentina: Falsified medication
Campaign continues As a next step in supporting action at national level, FIP led the WHPA campaign against spurious medicines in India. This aims to raise awareness and develop competencies of healthcare professionals in the prevention of spurious medicines in the supply chain, their detection and their ability to communicate this issue to patients and key partners. In 2014, a presentation entitled “Overview of spurious medicines for healthcare professionals in India” was given, with pre- and post-assessment of understanding for participants.
In 2014, a presentation entitled "Overview of spurious medicines for healthcare professionals in India” was given, with pre- and post-assessment of understanding for participants.
WHO interventions On behalf of the alliance, FIP has made several statements at the WHO Executive Board and World Health Assembly on the issue of counterfeit medicines. For example, in May 2014, it made an intervention on provisional Agenda Item 15.3 on Substandard/spurious/falsely-labelled/ falsified/counterfeit medical products.
Handbook Under the lead of FIP, WHPA has also developed a handbook for healthcare professionals entitled “All you need to know about spurious medicines”, in cooperation with the Indian Pharmaceutical Association. This handbook contains tips on preventing and detecting counterfeit medicines as well as advice on how to minimise the threat and change behaviours.
Videos The WHPA has produced a video to raise awareness of the risks of counterfeit medicines and of what can be done to prevent the harm they can cause. The video, launched in 2016, exploits an interactive function of YouTube to ask the viewer to choose between two products.
The next scene the viewer sees depends on the choice made. The aim is to confront people with a situation to which little thought is often given and send home the message that there is an important need to think twice over decisions about medicines.
The video is accompanied by three sets of animated measures that can be taken to avoid fake medicines, aimed at consumers, health care professionals and policymakers. Consumers, for instance, are given advice on how to make sure that medicines bought online are real, and health care professionals are reminded which features of medicines to inspect. Through the third set of measures, the WHPA calls on policymakers to strengthen laws against counterfeiting and to involve health care professionals in policy decisions so that these are appropriate to real-life and more likely to be put into practice.
Watch the video and see what measures you can take here.
A standalone, non-interactive loop version of the video and measures has been produced for playing at conferences. It is available for free from email@example.com.
This video was made possible thanks to a grant from Lilly.
Working with the World Health Organization
A forum of FIP, the WHO and the National Pharmaceutical Association of the South East Asian Region (SEAR) called the SEARPharm Forum is involved in the fight against counterfeit medicines to protect patients. It compiles and analyses data on incidents of counterfeit medicines, producing reports on the problem.
Tool for visual inspection of medicines
A checklist designed to help health professionals carry out a visual inspection of medicines for signs of counterfeiting, such as improper packaging, labelling or description of dose, has been produced by the International Council of Nurses in partnership with the United States Pharmacopoeia and modified by FIP’s Military and Emergency Pharmacists Section.
Download English version here
Download Spanish version here
Download French version here
Download German version here
Download Dutch version here
All suspect products with incorrect labels, missing information about the strength, dosage, or expiration date should be reported to the appropriate national authority, the WHO or FIP.
Framework for Establishing National Guidelines for Pharmacists in Combating Counterfeit Medicines
FIP developed a framework to facilitate the creation of guidance for pharmacists on counterfeit medicines. This document is available to FIP member organisations in English, French and Spanish and has been validated by the IMPACT Working Group on Communications.
It suggests organisations and key elements to be included in national guidance. It also provides member organisations with content and indicates which content could be adapted according to national circumstances.
FIP has published several articles targeting pharmacists in the fight against counterfeit medicines:
- Chan X, Hoek T, Reggi V. Counterfeit medicines – it will never happen to me. Eur J Hosp Pharm Prac. 2008;14(2):55-57.
- Besançon L. The role of hospital pharmacists in counterfeit medicines. Eur J Hosp Pharm Prac. 2008;14(2):65-66.
- Chan X, Besançon L. Safe internet buying of medicines: why and how pharmacists should help. Eur J Hosp Pharm Prac. 2008;14(3):61-63.
(© 2008 Pharma Publishing & Media Europe. All rights reserved.)
FIP organises sessions on counterfeit medicines during its annual congresses and speaks on the issue around the world. Symposia and presentations include:
- FIP symposium on counterfeit medicines (2011, Hyderabad, India)
- Presentation on country specific case studies – Best practices to combat counterfeit medicines and to protect public health in Africa (2008, Luc Besançon).
Abstracts from recent FIP congresses include:
Updated 18 November 2014