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Counterfeit medicines endangering lives worldwide, UN-backed panel warns

Counterfeit medicines endangering lives worldwide, UN-backed panel warns

INCB President Philip Emafo
Unregulated sales of pharmaceutical drugs, including counterfeit medicines, are undermining national drug laws and regulatory authorities while threatening the lives of patients taking them due to lack of safety or efficacy, the head of a United Nations-backed narcotics body said today.

“The factors that drive the unregulated markets is the limited access to health care facilities in a number of countries, particularly developing countries, and the lack of public awareness and ignorance of people,” International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) President Philip O. Emafo told a news conference at UN Headquarters in New York, presenting his organization’s annual report.

According to the report of the Vienna-based INCB, an independent quasi-judicial control organ monitoring the implementation of UN drug control conventions, unregulated sales in places such as street markets and the Internet of both internationally controlled and counterfeit drugs endanger the lives of people worldwide.

The Board warns that unofficial drug sales, due to a lack of standards, result in substandard and even lethal medications going to unsuspecting customers. The drugs sold on the black market are often stolen from legitimate health-care centres or retailers, illicitly manufactured or sold illegally on the Internet.

The INCB urged UN agencies, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), to help Member States better understand the ramifications of illicit drug sales on the unregulated market and to prevent the trafficking of these drugs.

The report also highlights developments in illicit drugs in specific regions of the world, noting that cultivation and production of cannabis and trafficking in cocaine is on the rise in Africa.