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Monday 19 April 2010

Patricia Covarrubia

The fight against counterfeit of medical products

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An International Conference called “Towards the practical implementation of the Council of Europe's Convention on Counterfeiting of Medical Products and Similar Crimes involving threats to public health (Medicrime Convention)” has taken place in Basel, Switzerland this past weekend -15-16 April. More than 140 participants, senior officials from health, law enforcement and judicial authorities from around 40 states, international organisations and institutions from around the world came together to examine the future MEDICRIME Convention.

The aim of this conference is to enhance significantly the fight against counterfeit medical products and similar crimes in Europe and worldwide by ensuring the required political support for the implementation of the future MEDICRIME convention.

This is indeed, the first international instrument providing for the
criminalisation of counterfeiting of medical products and similar crimes in order to protect public health and establishing a framework for international co-operation on criminal law matters between Parties in this regard. The convention includes not only members of the Council of Europe but also will be open for accession to states which are non-members.

Speaking at the closing session of the Conference was the advisor of the Mexican Federal Commission for Protection Against Health Risks (Cofepris), Agustin Alberdi Angeles. He described the situation in Mexico. He started by saying that the most consumed and confiscated counterfeit drugs in Mexico are Viagra, Cialis, and Aspirin. Adding, he said that free medical samples are also sold, the most common being: Humulin, contact lenses and condoms. In addition, he mentioned that pharmacies sell medicines to which the expiration date has been removed. He mentioned that Mexican authorities seized 25 tons of drugs between January and March 2010.

The substantive criminal law provisions included in the MEDICRIME Convention cover more than the counterfeiting of medical products; it as well covers the supplying and trafficking, the falsification of documents (linked to medical products). It also establishes preventive measures such as the introduction of quality and safety requirements for medical products and measures ensuring their safe distribution. This too includes awareness-raising campaigns, supervision of the distribution chain,
agreements with Internet service providers and domain registrars.

The final declaration calls for the counterfeiting of medicines to be considered "a violation of the right to life”, a right which is recognised by the Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Convention after all, brings everybody attention - an international cooperation to successfully combat counterfeit medical products.

The draft of the MEDICIRIME Convention can be read here.

More info here and here.

Patricia Covarrubia

Patricia Covarrubia