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FIP WHO Open Forum on the International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce (IMPACT)

On the 26th March 2010, FIP was invited to moderate a WHO Open Forum on the International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce (IMPACT) which brought together 48 WHO Member States and 28 international development agencies, NGOs and private sector organizations from around the world to share information on the work of IMPACT, and review the feed-back from WHO Member States on the use of the term "counterfeit medicines" and/or equivalent in national legislation.

The meeting was a valuable opportunity to present detailed overview of the technical work that IMPACT has undertaken since 2006.

Issues pertaining to the work on counterfeit medicines remains unresolved as there is a lack of consensus among Member States on the definition of the term "counterfeit". The complexity of the challenge was further revealed in a preliminary report by the WHO Secretariat on the survey of terms as used in national legislation of Member States and reinforced by ongoing research of the IMPACT Working Group on Legislation and Regulatory Infrastructure.

A number of Member States remained concerned about the mandate of WHO's to work on issues relating to counterfeit medicines even though the WHO secretariat presented relevant World Health Assembly Resolutions WHA 41.16 (1988) and WHA 47.13 (1994), both of which calls upon WHO to "to assist Member States in their efforts in combating the use of counterfeit drugs" which forms the basis for the overall WHO's Counterfeit Medicines Programme including the work of IMPACT. Examples of other similar multi-stakeholder partnerships exists under the auspices of WHO.

Echoing the views of many in the room, Ton Hoek, General Secretary of FIP and chair of the IMPACT Working Group on Communications said "we must realise that the use of counterfeit medicines can result in treatment failure leading to drug resistance or even death. In addition, public confidence in health-delivery systems may be eroded following use and/or detection of counterfeit medicines". Counterfeit medical products are real threats to personal and public health worldwide, therefore WHO is the most appropriate health agency to address this issue globally.

In conclusion, it is recognised that the imminent rapid growth of counterfeit medicines will only be stopped through global cooperation among governments, international agencies, legislators, law enforcement units, health care professions, patient groups and industry representatives from all countries of the world. It is also with the social imperative that pharmacists as health care professions need to take in the way we fight against counterfeit medical products in our daily practice. The misnomer of "it will never happen to me" is a dangerous one.
FIP continues to work very closely with the WHO Counterfeit Medicines Programme and IMPACT.

For more information about FIP activities:
• http://www.fip.org/counterfeit_medicines
• http://www.whpa.org/counterfeit_campaign.htm

For more information about WHO activities:
• http://www.who.int/medicines/services/counterfeit/en/index.html
• http://www.who.int/impact/en/index.html