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Archived updates for Monday, November 21, 2005

Counterfeit Drug Rate Estimates Reach 10% Worldwide

Reporting on the Second Global Congress Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy, Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen of Intellectual Property Watch wrotes on November 15, 2005 that the WHO estimates that counterfeit drugs account for 10 percent of all pharmaceuticals globally, rising to 25 percent in developing countries according to Interpol. In fact, a survey of Nigeria indicated that 80 percent of the drugs distributed in major pharmacies in the capital city of Lagos were counterfeit according to Interpol conference data. The situation often gets worse in cases of emergency (such as the tsunami in Asia), said Eric McIntosh, chief investigator of the surveillance unit of the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Chris Israel, coordinator for international intellectual property enforcement at the US Department of Commerce, reportedly told Intellectual Property Watch that one could not help seeing the issue of counterfeit medicines as having more of a human impact than other counterfeit issues:

However, he noted that this issue was “part of a larger environment” and the issue was linked with other counterfeit issues. Thus they all had to be fought with “equal energy,” he said. Critics have charged that industry and government have at times held up incidents in the pharmaceutical and airplane parts industries to win public
sympathy for an overall anti-counterfeit agenda.

The issue of whether lower prices in general would reduce the amount of counterfeits was not discussed at the conference but when asked about the issue, Israel replied that “those are market decisions.” He said that his unit’s focus was to create an environment to confront stolen intellectual property, while the companies’ role was to produce the best products possible. “Our primary focus should be on enforcement,” Israel said.

For more information on counterfeit drugs, visit
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