World Health Assembly discusses the issue of quality medicines

17th May 2011

This week at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, the issue of “substandard/spurious/falsely-labelled/falsified/counterfeit medical products” will be a part of the agenda. The Working Group of Member States on Substandard/Spurious/Falsely-Labelled/Falsified/Counterfeit Medical Products met in Geneva from 28 Feb-2 March 2011 and issued a report, accessible here

The group has asked for more time to work on these issues as it was unable to come to many firm conclusions. They did conclude that “[O]verall, WHO should continue to focus on and intensify its measures to make medical products more affordable, strengthening national regulatory authorities and health systems, which includes national medicine policies, health risk-management systems, sustainable financing, human resource development, and reliable procurement and supply systems; and to enhance and support work on prequalification and promotion of generics, and efforts in rational selection and use of medical products. In each of these areas, WHO’s function should be: information sharing and awareness creation; norms and standards and technical assistance to countries on country situation assessment; national policy development; and capacity building, supporting product development and domestic production.”

Additionally, The Lancet issued an interesting Commentary this week, entitled Fighting fake drugs: the role of WHO and pharma. In it, they express support for a “treaty [that] would make counterfeit medicines illegal.”

Coalition member ICEC (International Consortium for Emergency Contraception) has been drawing attention to the issue of sub-standard drugs for some years as EC is a product that, unfortunately, has been counterfeited or produced in sub-standard form in the past. The MDA WG is also focused on this issue through its Workstream 4: Facilitating the availability of quality generic supplies.

For more on the ICEC, please contact Elizabeth Westley.

Thank you to Elizabeth Westley for this article.

Categories: Featured, Market Development Approaches Working Group