The PHARMA package aims to put a stop to counterfeit medicines. MEPs are increasingly concerned by the health risk posed by the rise of internet sales of products such as viagra. Counterfeit medicines are easy to come by and far easier to manufacture. It'
Over a two month period in the EU last year, 34 million counterfeit tablets were seized. This growing trade in fake medicines poses a real threat to public health. You can have side-effects that you don’t have with regular medicine and if it doesn’t help that also causes a problem because the patients are lacking the substance they need. Peter Liese is a doctor, so he knows the dangers. Now the EU is tackling the problem as part of the pharma package aimed at making all medicines safer. Marisa Matias wants tougher penalties for a high-profit, low-risk crime and to see internet sales included. The number of people buying on the internet is increasing every year, and the risks of that source of entry for fake medicines have to be dealt with. That’s one of my main proposals. It’s not just lifestyle drugs like Viagra. Many seizures were anti-biotics, anti-malarial and cancer drugs. MEPs want to ensure the integrity of original packaging but drugs are often traded across frontiers, re-packaged with instructions in other languages, so packs are broken up. One MEP has a novel solution: a cash prize to reward successful research, then free licensing to remove the profit incentive. If you look at pharmaceutical companies' balance sheets, the cost of marketing and sales is twice the cost of research. It’s a difficult problem. The counterfeiters, are ruthless, well organised and quickly able to copy safety labelling. The EU is determined to make their trade more difficult, possibly by April.