Today is World Anti-Counterfeiting Day. Reports indicate that in 2012, 100,000 people died from false/substandard medication for the treatment of malaria. Thanks to cutting edge research and development, for decades we have had treatments for these diseases. But because counterfeits have infiltrated public health systems in such a widespread manner, a whopping 20% of those fatally struck by malaria perished only because they were treated with bad drugs.
Last year, IPI partnered with Center for Medicine in the Public Interest (CMPI) to draw awareness to the dangers of counterfeits to public health. (For more information on this event, click here.)
The cases presented were horrifying. When it comes to routine OOT medications in the developed world, we don’t think twice about the risk before taking an acetaminophen for aches or pains. But what if that bottle of headache medicine is actually just ground up chalk, mortar... or arsenic?
Life-saving therapies are critical to chronic and acute care. But counterfeits don’t discriminate. They’ve infected medications for Botox, cancer, even for HIV.
As Scott LaGanga of the Partnership for Safe Medicines pointed out: The extent of the problem is impossible to quantify, but in some parts of the world about 1/3 of all medical products are counterfeit.
And it’s not just medicines. Counterfeits have infiltrated every aspect of our daily lives. Before you take that road trip this summer, imagine fake brake pads or airbags on your vehicle. Or fake batteries or power cables charging your children’s toys or your home appliances, as demonstrated by Brett Brenner of the Electrical Safety Foundation International.
Dave Brener of U.S. Customs and Border Protection presented a plan to combat counterfeits in the supply chain, much of which partners with rights-holders to provide product authentication guides, officer training, and help make authentication CBP friendly.
And consumer awareness is vital. Be judicious when you buy. That "steal of a deal" may cost you a lot more than you think.