World losing $75 million annually to counterfeit medicine trade


Mombasa,KENYA:The world looses more than 75 billion US dollars every year through revenue collected from counterfeit medicine.

This is according to a research conducted by the International Institute of Research against Counterfeit Medicine based in France.

Addressing stakeholders during a three days sensitization workshop organized by the Kenya Revenue Authority and the World Customs Organization on Wednesday Wilfrid Roge the director of training at the research institute said counterfeit trade is a global phenomenon that has been affecting both developed  and developing countries.

Roge insisted that the menace will only be minimized when countries embrace cooperation and conduct a stiff campaign against those countries that practice the trade and said that in the recent past the counterfeit business has been booming saying  that it is highly practiced in China and India.

“This counterfeit business is a universal trade that needs our cooperation so that we can all wipe out the vice. It affects both developing and developed countries thus calling for a stiff campaign.” Roge insisted

He said that in case they opt to conduct an extensive operation in Africa in partnership with the World Customs Organization they would end up seizing over 800 million counterfeit medicines in just four consecutive seizures and noted that according to the statistics from the institute atleast 10 per cent of all medicine used  around  the globe over are counterfeits.

The scientist added that the three day workshop is aimed at training all stakeholders including the customs department and the Pharmacy and Poisons Board officials on ways of combating the vice in order to protect the general citizenry against the upsurge of the menace.

On the other hand, Sandra Wens a technical research scientist from the WCO said the workshop which has brought together over 18 African countries aims at giving direction to all customs officials in Africa and jointly working together with an aim of eradicating the vice.

Sandra added that the British government has stepped up procedures to deal with counterfeit medicine pointing out that the country has been doing better due technological advancement used in identifying counterfeit medicine.

“This workshop has brought over 18 African countries all trying to find a way out of this international problem. The problem is minimal in my country because of advancing technology.” She said.

She however urged African countries to stop the illegal trade as it goes against the international trade laws and further highlighted that almost all countries in the world are signatories of the international trade law.

The report  further indicates that in 2009, 20 million pills, bottles and sachets of counterfeit and illegal medicines were seized in a five-month operation coordinated by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) across China and seven of its south-east Asian neighbors where 33 people were arrested and 100 retail outlets closed.

According to the World Health Organization the worldwide sales of counterfeit medicines could top US$ 75 billion a 90% rise in five years, according to an estimate published by the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest in the United States of America (USA) in the year 2010.

However the organization says its closely working with Interpol to track individuals raking billions of dollars from the trade.