The WHO has warned that it is high time for the medicine industry to embrace product-tracking technologies such as radio frequency identification tags that would help identify fake medicines.
Alarmingly, such substandard counterfeit medicines that are deliberately mislabeled to cheat customers have been found to contain even poisonous substances, unfit for human use. These medicines yield enormous profit and have remained the target of crime gangs. It is predicted that the sale of inappropriate medicines would reach as high as $US75 billion by the end of 2010, approximating to a 92% increase since 2005.
'People don't die from carrying a fake handbag or wearing a fake T-shirt. They can die from taking a counterfeit medicine. International police action against the factories and distribution networks should be as uncompromising as that applied in the pursuit of narcotics smuggling,' warned Howard Zucker, WHO technology spokesman.
Instances of death of children following consumption of counterfeit medicines with poisonous substances and reports of unwanted pregnancy from use of birth control pills made out of flour has demanded the establishment of International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce (IMPACT).
Criminals are becoming smarter day-by-day that makes it difficult to detect such illegal practices. The problem associated with such illegal drug trade is prevalent among almost all countries. In an attempt to track counterfeit drug sale in the western Pacific region, last year, US officials established an internet-based pilot called Rapid Alert System to alert local officials.
'We need more innovative solutions for prevention at the manufacturing stage, and for detection in the distribution chain. RFID and other technologies for product tracking are being used in some countries, but we need some means of making these more sophisticated tools available in developing countries,' he concluded.