New treaty to curb counterfeit drugs

July 16, 2010
Stephanie Sutton
Pharmaceutical Technology Europe

The Council of Europe (CoE) is hoping its 'Medicrime' treaty can help curb the lucrative global trade in fake medicines.

The Council of Europe (CoE) is hoping its ‘Medicrime’ treaty can help curb the lucrative global trade in fake medicines. The treaty is the first global convention against counterfeit pharmaceuticals and encourages cooperation among law enforcement agencies, customs, health professionals and the judiciary.

"The fact that public health threats related to counterfeit medical products and similar crimes have now reached global proportions makes this Medicirme convention relevant to all governments," a CoE spokesman told PTE. "The treaty provides a framework for strengthened criminal penalties, victim protection and national and international cooperation."

The CoE has been long concerned about the absence of harmonised international legislation, non-deterrent sanctions and the involvement of cross-border criminal organisations. Experts also believe the trend towards self-treatment has “flooded the internet with medicines produced without any controls, tests or authorisation”, according to the news briefing.

The spokesman for the CoE also added: "The Convention considers the use of the internet to distribute counterfeit medical products to be an aggravating circumstance of the criminal acts that requires legal remedies."

Another significant worry is the growing incidence of counterfeit medicines in supply chains. The healthcare systems of developing countries are particularly vulnerable to the mass entry of counterfeits; however, the CoE also believes that fake anti-coagulation drugs may already have been taken by patients in the UK. Adultered antibiotics, cancer treatments, anti-psychotic drugs, cholesterol-lowering treatments and erectile dysfunction may also be present in Europe.

According to the CoE, counterfeiters are attracted by the potential for huge profits coupled with low detection rates and comparative light penalties. However, the treaty will introduce tougher sanctions and help to ensure more effective pursuit of counterfeit manufacturers across international borders.

The Medicrime treaty will be opened for signatures later this year at aconference in Istanbul (Turkey) in November, which will be attended byrepresentatives from 47 countries.

www.coe.int