WHO Experts Seek Ways To Use Technology To Combat Spread of Counterfeit Drugs, Including Drugs for HIV/AIDS, Malaria
Experts from the World Health Organization on Tuesday met with more than 20 technology companies to discuss how to use technology to detect counterfeit drugs circulating in developing countries, including drugs to treat malaria and HIV/AIDS, Reuters reports (Hirschler, Reuters, 3/13). Ideas the experts discussed at the one-day meeting in Prague, Czech Republic, include bar codes, digital watermarks, holograms and radio tags (WHO release, 3/13). Howard Zucker, WHO assistant director-general for health technology, said experts plan to gather ideas and brief countries about possible strategies within a few months. He added that strategies would be "tailored to country needs based on their resources" because a "one-size-fits-all solution is not going to be the way to move forward." Harvey Bale, director of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations, said technology could be helpful in curbing the spread of counterfeit drugs but is not the only solution. He called for stringent legislation and regulations, as well as rigorous enforcement (Reuters, 3/13). According to the most recent figures gathered by a WHO-led task force on the issue, counterfeit drugs make up roughly 1% of sales in developed countries. The proportion is more than 10% in developing countries, and more than 30% of drugs are believed to be counterfeit in parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America. In some former Soviet Union republics, counterfeit drugs account for more than one-fifth of the market (WHO release, 3/13). According to Zucker, the Internet is fueling the problem because it has become a pipeline for counterfeit goods worldwide (Reuters, 3/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.