Counterfeit and poor quality medicines are to be severely condemned and public health issues should be the prime consideration in fighting the supply of counterfeit medicines.
In this week's PLoS Medicine, Paul Newton of Mahosot Hospital, Vientiane, Lao PDR and the University of Oxford, UK and colleagues argue that public health issues, and not intellectual property or trade issues, should be the prime consideration in defining and combating counterfeit medicines. They say that the World Health Organization (WHO) should take a more prominent role. The authors advocate that an international treaty on medicine quality, under the auspices of the WHO, could play a key role in the struggle against counterfeit and substandard medicines.
The authors comment that: "Counterfeit medicines should be defined in terms of harm to health, with punishments appropriate for the injury or killing of patients. Moreover, it is imperative that public health institutions, ministries, and lawyers, and not primarily IP specialists or industrial and trade bodies, take the strategic lead in countering poor quality medicines."