Monday, November 17, 2014

IPR and Medicines 31: Trademark Stealing and Counterfeit Medicines

Today, I will attend the 1st day of National Consciousness Week against Counterfeit Medicines, Theme: Kapakanan ng Pamilya Alagaan, Huwad na Gamot Labanan, to be held at the JY Campos Hall, Bayanihan Center, Unilab Complex in Pasig City. The event is sponsored by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) and today's event is mainly for civil society organizations (CSOs), including Minimal Government Thinkers, Inc.

Production of counterfeit, fake and substandard medicines is generally stealing the trademark and logo of famous pharma companies, both innovators like Pfizer and GSK, and generics like Unilab, then selling those fakes. Patients and their family/guardians think that they are buying the real products of these known companies and the patients end up getting some adverse side effects, or they don't get cured and the disease in their body mutate or expand into something more serious. So counterfeits is costly in terms of expanding the treatment, and can be fatal.

As an advocate of rule of law as the main function of government, I believe that government, both national and local units, should be serious in fighting this crime because it endangers public health. This is a more useful function that imposing drug price control and mandatory, forced priced discounts for senior citizens and perons with disabilities (PWDs). Of what use to certain sectors are cheap, forcibly discounted medicines, if they some of them are fake and substandard and  hence, can cause more health problems? Declining prices of  medicines and healthcare can be done by having more competition among more pharma players, among drugstores and hospitals, among physicians and other health professionals.

The topics and speakers for today's event are:

1. Keynote Address by DOH Assistant Secretary, Atty. Nicolas Lutero, OIC of the FDA.

2. "Global Perspectives on Counterfeiting Medicines and the Current WHO Initiatives on SSFFC" by Mr. Michael Deats, Group Lead, SSFFC Medical Products Safety and Vigilance Essential Medicines and Health Products, WHO, Geneva, Switzerland

3. "A Multistakeholder Approach to Strengthening Community Advocacy for Safe and Quality Medicines (Highlights of the MeTA Discussion Series)" by Ms. Cecilia C.  Sison, Country Coordinator, Medicines Transparency Alliance (MeTA) Philippines

4. "Impact of counterfeit medicines to public health and patient safety" by Dr. Maria Minerva P. Calimag, President of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA)

5. "Counterfeiting and its impact to national security and public safety" by Mr. Eric McCloughlin, Deputy Attaché, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), US Embassy in Manila

6. "Understanding the problem and working together to combat counterfeit medicines" by Mr. Samson Chiu, Director, Asia-Pacific Region, Pharmaceutical Security Institute (PSI)

7. "Food and Drug Administration process and initiatives in combatting counterfeit medicines" by Ms. Maria Lourdes C. Santiago, OIC, Center for Drug Regulation and Research

8. "Enforcement Policies and Regulations on Medicines Anti-Counterfeiting" by Atty. Edna Valenzuela, Senior Assistant State Prosecutor, Department of Justice (DOJ)

9. "Initiatives of Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines in combatting counterfeit medicines" by Atty. Ricardo Blancaflor, Director General, Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPO)

10. Industry’s effort in combatting counterfeit medicines proliferation: 
Best Practices in private industry enforcement programs to stop counterfeit medicines from endangering public

a. Mr. Tetsuda Ikeda, Director Global Security, Asia Pacific Region, Pfizer, Inc.
b. Mr. Teodoro Padilla, Executive Director, Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP)
c. Ms. Dolora P. Cardinal, Head, Public Affairs Committee-FDA, Philippine Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry, Inc. (PCPI)

Closing remarks by Dr. Ariel I. Valencia, FDA Deputy Director General for Field Regulatory Operations

On the 2nd day tomorrow, the same speakers from the WHO, PSI, US Embassy, others, to be held at Diamond Hotel, Roxas Blvd, Manila. Target audience are mostly government enforcement agencies. And the 3rd day on Wednesday, it will be a pledging session by various groups at the FDA office in Alabang, Muntinlupa.

Meanwhile, some materials on counterfeit medicines I found several years ago:

1. Coalition Against Fake Medicines Launched

The medicines we take for day-to-day ailments and life-threatening conditions should make us feel better or save our lives. But because of the presence of counterfeit medicines in the country today, we should be cautious as to the medicines we buy.

This was the warning issued by the Department of Health (DOH), which noted that about ten percent of medicines bought in pharmacies today are fakes. Fake medicines, which are not registered with the Bureau of Food and Drugs, may be useless, harmful, or even deadly.

This dangerously widespread occurrence pushed similarly-minded government agencies, and private institutions to form a coalition group to help combat and eventually eliminate this illegal trade. The Coalition Against Fake Medicines is composed of ten organizations - the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Justice (DOJ), Philippine Medical Association (PMA), Drugstores Association of the Philippines (DSAP), Mercury Drug Corporation, Zuellig Pharma Corporation, GMA 7 Broadcast Network, Philippine Daily Inquirer and Pfizer. Inc..

Present during the MOA signing were (standing from left): Manuel Quiogue, President, GMA 7 Network, Inc.; Celine Madamba, AVP-Strategic Marketing Communications, PDI; Jack Concepcion, VP-Merchandising, Mercury Drug, Inc; Dr. Jose Sabili, Vice President, Philippine Medical Association. 

Seated from left are Celia Carlos, President, Drugstores Association of the Philippines; Hon. J. Norman Jocson, Assistant Secretary, Department of Trade and Industry; Hon. Manuel Dayrit, Secretary, Department of Health; Rey Gerardo Bacarro, President and Country Manager, Pfizer, Inc; Hon. Macabangkit Lanto, Undersecretary, Department of Justice; and Michael Becker, President and CEO, Zuellig Pharma Corporation.

2. From The News Today, 2006.

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