Regional Issues on Counterfeit Medicines
While international and global measures are being implemented and treaty between countries is being drafted, the battle against the production, exportation, importation and distribution of counterfeit medicines still poses a challenge to regional authorities. Developing cities are the first to suffer the down side of continuous battle. With the lack of technology which can at least identify and differentiate fraudulent medicines from the real ones, it seems almost impossible to halt illegal manufacturers from their practice. Despite the smaller demographic scope, the authorities have no chance against producers who are at most times, backed up and financed by a powerful mafia. There are different issues faced by the regional sectors caused by drug counterfeiting. Above the list is corruption, bribery and other illegal complaints against the government of third world nations. There are also times when the politician himself has a direct connection with counterfeiting. In other times, the police who should be keen in implementing the law against these fraudsters are collecting money to keep their mouth shut. Also, aside from the fact that they are producing illegal medicines which are harmful to human health, they are also exploiting the citizens by forcing them to work illegally under minimum wages. The Peterson Group has once raided an illegal manufacturing operation in Jakarta, Indonesia where the workers admitted to be locally employed or referred by a friend. The work demands them of strict confidentiality. Most of them are not aware of the nature of their job but are forced to keep shut because of the need of work and income. Another regional issue is the lack of awareness among citizens within certain regions who also take medicine for disease or health maintenance. Fraudsters target individuals living in rural areas since they are not fully informed of the extent of the effects or even the existence of counterfeit medicines. Different concerned agencies acquire desperate strategies in combatting the issue. The World Health Organization (WHO) and INTERPOL have led the efforts to combat regional difficulties especially in Asia. Operation Storm was created and was a multi-country operation combating counterfeit pharmaceuticals. It brought together the Customs, Drug Regulatory Agencies and the Police of each participating country: Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The operation seized over $12M in counterfeit medicines and more than 16 million pills, including antibiotics, anti-malarials, contraceptives, anti-tetanus vaccines, aspirin and drugs to treat erectile dysfunction.