History of Drug Counterfeiting and Methods of Combat
Headlines are filled with different brand of medicines being counterfeited in many developing countries; Studies are bursting with statistics showing 1% of medicines in the United States are fraud while global production claims 30%. Reviews are flooded with negative reactions from netizens on how NGOs should have obliterated counterfeiting by now; World Health Organization (WHO) is busy jotting down methods to combat this illegal practice; Non-profit organizations such The Peterson Group, icare.com and Anti-Counterfeiting Inc. receive complaints on their system and process of battling against drug counterfeit; Different government units such as that of Jakarta, Indonesia, Beijing and Shenzhen, China are scrutinized for loose security system. All of these issues have a sole reason for being: the existence of counterfeit medicines.
The struggle and concern against drug counterfeiting is as old as medicine itself, although not as rampant as it is today.
In as early as 400 BC there have been warnings of their presence as Dioscorides, a Greek physician, pharmacologist and botanist wrote in his ‘Materia Medica’ about the detection of counterfeit drugs. In the recent past, the unregulated proliferation of pharmaceutical industries and products has brought problems of extreme magnitude.
Concern regarding counterfeiting took a global scale after the establishment of WHO in 1948 but it was not addressed in an international sanction until 1985 in the Conference of Experts on the Rational Use of Drugs in Nairobi. The meeting suggests that WHO together with government units and NGOs should study the feasibility of setting up a study to conclusively know the real extent of the problem.
In 1988, the World Health Assembly requested the director-general of WHO to create a policy that would regulate the production, importation, exportation and distribution of medicines. The resolution also requested WHO to create alliance with UN secretary-general in case international provisions are violated.
The first international meeting on counterfeit medicines, a workshop conducted by WHO and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (IFPMA), was held from April 1-3, 1992 in Geneva.
A resolution dubbed as WHA47.13 financed by the government of Japan was launched in 1994 with an objective to assist member states in identifying and assessing counterfeit problems and in development of necessary combat measures. The campaign was highly successful in raising awareness and since it ended in 1997, further international organizations and campaigns were also held dominating even online platform.