The workshops, seminars, and round tables the day before the two-day Global Forum plenary sessions began with a presentation by Charlie Cichon of the (US) National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI) and Dr. Wilson Compton of the (US) National Institute of Drug Abuse on The Challenge of RX Diversion. Cichon showed the challenge to investigators, and Compton, the cost and consequences to society and users. Cichon spoke of the success of the system used to track pseudoephedrine to the patient and how a similar system could be used for prescription painkillers. Compton spoke of the need for more public awareness campaigns and research.
The following seminar given by Cambridge Consultants on various smart phone technologies contributed to a technology discussion applicable to both diversion and counterfeiting. The technology is available, useful, and compatible. The question remains: ‘will consumers use it?’ If the answer turns out to be ‘no,’ many of the technologies will nonetheless be cost effective and user friendly ways for specialists, investigators, law enforcement, and customs agents to check products.
The afternoon roundtable on Drug Resistance: How Counterfeits Contribute and How to Prevent This led by Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer, from the US President’s Malaria Initiative and Tom Woods of Woods International, focused on counterfeiting and the impact of fakes on the rapid rise in drug resistance. Participants from all over the world contributed to a meaningful discussion where it was noted that fragmentation and duplication of efforts remain as areas where more cooperation and communication could help.
The joint program of USAID and the US Pharmacopeia, Promoting the Quality of Medicines (PQM), continues to lead globally to improve standards, capacity, and access and to reduce fragmentation and duplication, but further international cooperation is needed. This ambitious topic could have easily disintegrated into hopelessness because the problem seems so overwhelming, but participants left with a sense that the right people, organizations, and governments were committed to action and progress is being made.
Global & National Perspectives
The first session of the Global Forum plenary covered Global & Regional Developments, and presentations discussed measurement of the counterfeit problem, legislation, policy, regulation, and proposed solutions at both the international and national level. Excellent high level presentations were given by the US Department of Commerce, the World Bank, Blue Sphere Health, Pakharenko & Partners, the Malaysian Ministry of Health and the Indian Director General of Foreign Trade.
Topics covered included developments in implementing the EU Falsified Medicines Directive, the Council of Europe’s Medicrime Convention and its impact on CIS countries, particularly Ukraine, the success of Malaysia’s Meditag™ and India’s programs for marking medicines for export and domestic use. At the end of the session there was a comment that the Meditag is perhaps the most effective anti-counterfeiting program in the world, not because of the product itself (a secure serialized hologram) but because it is a comprehensive national program supported by the Ministry’s educational campaigns and properly trained inspectors.
Although there were some differences and definitions and some disagreement over tactical implementation, there was a surprising amount of agreement over the need for better standards. Perhaps the parties creating the obstacles for global cooperation were unable to attend the Global Forum because they had exhausted their travel budget attending the WHO Substandard/Spurious/Falsely labelled/Falsified/Counterfeit medical products meeting in Buenos Aires the week before (announced only a couple of months before the Global Forum).