Pharma companies funding Interpol to crack down on fake drugs

Posted Mar 14, 2013 by Tim Sandle
More than two dozen of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies have agreed to provide funding and support to Interpol to prevent the sale and distribution of counterfeit prescription drugs.
The international policing service Interpol (International Criminal Police Organization) has recently created a Pharmaceutical Crime Program, which aims to assist health agencies, police and customs bureaux prevent the sale and distribution of fake prescription drugs. The body also aims to identify and to arrest the criminals behind the activities, according to the BBC.
The issue of counterfeit drugs not only funds illegal crime rings it also puts consumers at risk from medicines that are either ineffective or dangerous. The World Health Organization, as CBS News has reported, estimates sales of medicines that are counterfeit, contaminated or otherwise illegal total $430 billion a year.
To assist Interpol’s initiative, many of the ‘big pharma’ companies, who have a vested interest in stemming the tide of fake medicines, have invested $5.9 million into the project (to be fed in over a three year period).
As an example of the problem, the Digital Journal reported recently that counterfeit versions of the Roche Group cancer drug Avastin have infiltrated the wholesale supply in the U.S.
Discussing the scheme, Aline Plancon, head of Interpol's counterfeiting and pharmaceutical crime program is quoted by Pharmaceutical Processing as saying: “We will develop a program according to what is best for the international community and what will save lives. It's been difficult for us as Interpol to sustain our activities" against counterfeiting over the years, she said, because the agency's limited resources also are needed for areas the international community sees as more serious crimes. Those include human trafficking, narcotics dealing, terrorism and money laundering.”
Interpol has an agreement to operate in 190 countries.