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Interpol to Help Crack Down on Fake Medicines

Update Date: Mar 13, 2013 10:20 AM EDT

The International Criminal Police Organization, better known as Interpol has jumpstarted a new program in order to crack down on fake drugs that have been entering the pharmaceutical market. The Pharmaceutical Crime Program's goal will be to assist health and law enforcement agencies throughout the work in stopping the sales of fake brand name and generic medicines, as well as dismantling the organized crime groups responsible.

The idea of this program started years ago and acquired monetary assistance from over two-dozen pharmaceutical companies. These companies pledged 4.5 million euros, equivalent to $5.9 million, over three years so that Interpol could train local police on the investigative tasks in dealing with large crime organizations. The police were also trained on evidence handling and on how to work with other officials from different countries.

"Putting an end to counterfeiting requires broad, coordinated action on a global sale. This new initiative between the pharmaceutical industry and INTERPOL is aimed at helping ensure that patients can trust in the safety and efficacy of the medicines they rely on," the president and CEO of Eli Lilly and Co., Dr. John C. Lechleiter said.

The money spent on these drugs takes profit away from actual drug makers. The estimated losses these legitimate companies experienced are in the billions. Not only does the international crime ring of selling fake drugs on the market ruin profits for other companies, they can severely harm patients' health. People rely on these medicines, and thus, might spend a lot of money on it. The drug counterfeit market is believed to be worth millions a year and continues to exist at the risk of other people's wellbeing. In 2006, counterfeit cough syrup killed over 100 people who were mostly children in Panama. More recently, in 2012, a counterfeit heart medication killed over 100 people in Pakistan.

Interpol hopes that this program will help stop the crime organizations behind drug counterfeiting, protecting consumers and people's health globally. 

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