- weak drug regulatory control and enforcement;
- scarcity and/or erratic supply of basic medicines;
- unregulated markets and distribution chains;
- high drug prices and/or
- significant price differentials.
At national level, governments, law enforcement agencies, heath professionals, the pharmaceutical industry, importers, distributors, and consumer organizations should adopt a shared responsibility in the fight against counterfeit drugs. Cooperation between countries, especially trading partners is very useful for combating counterfeiting. Cooperation should include the timely and appropriate exchange of information and the harmonization of measures to prevent the spread of counterfeit medicines.
The World Health Organization has developed and published guidelines, Guidelines for the development of measures to combat counterfeit medicines. These guidelines provide advice on measures that should be taken by the various stakeholders and interested parties to combat counterfeiting of medicines. Governments and all stakeholders are encouraged to adapt or adopt these guidelines in their fight against counterfeiting of medicines.
- Guidelines for the development of measures to combat counterfeit medicines
- Rapid Alert System for counterfeit medicines
Communication and advocacy - creating public awareness
Patients and consumers are the primary victims of counterfeit medicines. In order to protect them from the harmful effects of counterfeit medicines it is necessary to provide them with appropriate information and education on the consequences of counterfeit medicines.
Patients and consumers expect to get advice from national authorities, health-care providers, health professionals and others from where they should buy or get their medicines; what measures they should take in case they come across such medicines or are affected by the use of such medicines.
Ministries of health, national medicines regulators, health professional associations, nongovernmental organizations and other stakeholders have the responsibility to participate in campaign activities targeting patients and consumers to promote awareness of the problem of counterfeit medicines. Posters, brochures, radio and television programmes are useful means for disseminating messages and advice.