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U.S. pledges to work with private sector to combat counterfeit drug threat

Aim is to protect the integrity of the global supply chain of pharmaceutical products delivered to patients in the U.S. and worldwide.

U.S. global meeting
U.S. global meeting

The threat to human health and security posed by counterfeit drugs was highlighted in a Nov. 29 keynote speech by Robert Hormats, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs at the Global Forum on Pharmaceutical AntiCounterfeiting & Diversion in Washington, DC.

Under Secretary Hormats pledged to collaborate with private sector efforts that would protect the integrity of the global supply chain of pharmaceutical products delivered to patients in the U.S. and other countries around the world.

He praised the outstanding efforts of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) while stressing that the global nature of the pharmaceutical trade will require expanded engagement from the Department of State.

Under Secretary Hormats spoke at the 7th Global Forum, organized by U.K. authentication and anti-counterfeiting specialist Reconnaissance International in association with Woods International, a Washington DC-based consulting firm focused on international public and private collaboration.

In his keynote address, the Under Secretary told delegates of America’s commitment to improving patient health and safety around the world through a growing number of programs under the banner of the State Department’s Safe Medicines Strategy.

The State Department works with USAID, the USFDA, the Partnership for Safe Medicines and other agencies to provide worldwide support to raise awareness of the dangers of counterfeit medicines and to strengthen law enforcement to identify, arrest, and prosecute counterfeiters.

Under this program, the U.S. is currently funding 24 projects, mainly in Africa and Asia. Under Secretary Hormats mentioned the example of a pilot project in India, where an intense awareness raising and monitoring campaign focused on just two villages is successfully reducing the use of fake medicines in those villages and thus improving the health of the villagers.

Under Secretary Hormats responded to questions from the audience by highlighting the need for converging standards, regulation, and application of technology across borders as a fundamental step toward frustrating sophisticated international criminal networks trafficking deadly fake drugs.

He also praised the role of private sector technology providers as they continue to innovate and place new tools in the hands of regulatory agencies and manufacturers alike. Under Secretary Hormats emphasized that by helping U.S. partner countries around the world, the U.S. will strengthen its own safety.

Under Secretary Hormats’ presentation was one of 24 given by speakers from around the world at the Global Forum. Papers were given by national drug regulatory agencies, from funding agencies such as the World Bank, from standards organizations including the U.S. Pharmacopeia, from pharmaceutical companies including Bristol Myers Squibb and Pfizer, from patients’ representative organizations, and from anti-counterfeiting service and product providers.

The 7th Global Forum on Pharmaceutical AntiCounterfeiting & Diversion took place at an opportune time for all those involved in fighting the scourge of counterfeit and diverted medicines, as it followed the first meeting of the new WHO (World Health Organization) Member States Mechanism on Substandard/spurious/falsely-labeled/falsified/counterfeit Medical Products Participants at the Global Forum focused on case studies and practical ways to identify and prevent counterfeit and diverted medicines from reaching patients.

Ian M Lancaster of Reconnaissance International, director of the Global Forum, said: “It was an honor to have Under Secretary Hormats giving the keynote paper and to hear from him about the USA’s strong commitment to its global strategy for safe medicines. It was also interesting to hear his important points about the need for international co-operation on the development of standards for the testing and authentication of medicines.”

The Global Forum on Pharmaceutical AntiCounterfeiting & Diversion was established by Reconnaissance International in 2002 as the first international event focusing on strategies and technologies to combat counterfeit medicines. The 8th Global Forum on Pharmaceutical AntiCounterfeiting & Diversion will be held in spring 2014.


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