ECOWAS Resolves to Fight Counterfeit, Expired Medicines

-Resolution to be submitted to Plenary in May for Approval, Implementation by Member States

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By Leroy M. Sonpon III On Thursday, April 13, the Joint Committee on Health & Social Welfare, and Trade, Customs and Free Movement of Persons and Goods of the 4th Legislature of ECOWAS Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution to fight counterfeit and expired medicines from the sub-region. The resolution was adopted on the fourth day of the Delocalized Meeting in Monrovia. Before the adoption, the Joint Committee recommended that severe administrative and penal sanctions must be constituted by member states on offenders. The committee further recommended regulating the production and importation of medical products and ensuring regular monitoring and evaluation; promote cooperation between the importing and exporting countries of medical products; develop a transparent and verification chain of control from production to distribution of medicines; strengthen public awareness by focusing on the harmful effects of counterfeit medicine; and empower consumers to become involved in the authentication of pharmaceutical products. According to the resolution, member states are to launch a large-scale investigation into counterfeit and expired medicines and trafficking; sponsor a campaign against counterfeit medicines and/or expired drugs; and take all necessary and possible measures to combat their trafficking. “Considering that counterfeit drugs contribute to the increase of the rate of infection and as a result leads to the deaths of people, it also deprives legally certified inventors and manufacturers, as well as governments, of financial revenues and hence, hindering further research,” the resolution said. “Considering that according to WHO a counterfeit medicine is ‘a medical product that is deliberately or fraudulently labeled with information that is misleading on its identity and/or true source, we are aware that experts are of the opinion that there are about 10% – 60% of counterfeit and expired medicines in West Africa and that the commitment of the ECOWAS Parliamentarians and the National Parliaments is a powerful means of informing and sensitizing the people on the integration of the people.” The resolution further said member states are encouraged to establish a community legislation mechanism inspection on the fight against counterfeit and expired medicines and called on parliaments of ECOWAS member states to support the initiative and work towards the achievement of its objectives. The meeting is to ensure the effective existence of an ECOWAS Policy on the fight against counterfeit and expired medicines and ensure its implementation in the sub-region in order to coordinate the joint efforts of the West Africa Health Organization (WAHO) and National Parliaments. The theme of the meeting, which ran from Monday, April 10 – Friday, April 14, was: “ECOWAS Policy on the fight against counterfeit medical products and expired drugs: Role of the Parliament in the implementation and monitoring.”

On Thursday, April 13, the Joint Committee on Health & Social Welfare, and Trade, Customs and Free Movement of Persons and Goods of the 4th Legislature of ECOWAS Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution to fight counterfeit and expired medicines from the sub-region.

The resolution was adopted on the fourth day of the Delocalized Meeting in Monrovia.

Before the adoption, the Joint Committee recommended that severe administrative and penal sanctions must be constituted by member states on offenders.

The  committee further recommended regulating the production and importation of medical products and ensuring regular monitoring and evaluation; promote cooperation between the importing and exporting countries of medical products; develop a transparent and verification chain of control from production to distribution of medicines; strengthen public awareness by focusing on the harmful effects of counterfeit medicine; and empower consumers to become involved in the authentication of pharmaceutical products.

According to the resolution, member states are to launch a large-scale investigation into counterfeit and expired medicines and trafficking; sponsor a campaign against counterfeit medicines and/or expired drugs; and take all necessary and possible measures to combat their trafficking.

“Considering that counterfeit drugs contribute to the increase of the rate of infection and as a result leads to the deaths of people, it also deprives legally certified inventors and manufacturers, as well as governments, of financial revenues and hence, hindering further research,” the resolution said.

“Considering that according to WHO a counterfeit medicine is ‘a medical product that is deliberately or fraudulently labeled with information that is misleading on its identity and/or true source, we are aware that experts are of the opinion that there are about 10% – 60% of counterfeit and expired medicines in West Africa and that the commitment of the ECOWAS Parliamentarians and the National Parliaments is a powerful means of informing and sensitizing the people on the integration of the people.”

The resolution further said member states are encouraged to establish a community legislation mechanism inspection on the fight against counterfeit and expired medicines and called on parliaments of ECOWAS member states to support the initiative and work towards the achievement of its objectives.

The meeting is to ensure the effective existence of an ECOWAS Policy on the fight against counterfeit and expired medicines and ensure its implementation in the sub-region in order to coordinate the joint efforts of the West Africa Health Organization (WAHO) and National Parliaments.

The theme of the meeting, which ran from Monday, April 10 – Friday, April 14, was: “ECOWAS Policy on the fight against counterfeit medical products and expired drugs: Role of the Parliament in the implementation and monitoring.”

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