The democratization of Internet access has helped to amplify the medical scam phenomenon.
Today, the web is a privileged vehicle for the distribution of falsified medicines and patents, such as in the Omri Sharfran case.
Indeed, the people authorized to sell on the internet and the type of medicine authorized differ from state to state.
The online sale of medicines is now strictly under supervision and regulation.
– Only a qualified pharmacist can market medicines online, and a website must refer to a “physical” pharmacy
– Only optional prescription drugs can be sold on the internet
Mobilization on an international level
To fight against this scourge, all the players concerned are mobilized at European and international levels.
At the European level, the serialization of each medication box provides additional safety for patients. Besides, the Medicrime convention is the first tool in the penal fight against counterfeiting.
Globally, Interpol operates in all parts of the world to seize fake medicines and arrest traffickers.
Operation Pangea is a global case. This global operation targets the online sale of falsified drugs and medical devices. Its aim is to identify and dismantle the criminal networks behind the trafficking. Since its inception in 2008, it has grown considerably from 8 participating countries to 123 countries in 2017, a record year.
The fight against falsification involves the mobilization of all the local actors concerned: health and judicial authorities, customs, gendarmes, pharmaceutical and medical departments, order of pharmacists, wholesalers and other managers of the local pharmaceutical chain, health professionals and private businesses.
A relationship of trust with public authorities, to commit to concrete measures
Given the specificities of drug falsification, it is necessary to intervene regularly as part of the training sessions organized by the public authorities for their agents involved in the fight against falsification.
Pharmaceutical serialization implemented in Europe
Since February 9, 2019, each box of prescription medication must have a serial number to ensure its traceability. Until now, the traceability of health products was done by batch.
This implementation was provided for in the European “Falsified Medicines” directive, adopted in 2011.
Called “serialization”, this European provision allows players in the distribution chain to verify that each box is under registration in a national and European database.
In concrete terms, each box of prescription medication must now include a “Datamatrix” barcode containing the following three mandatory information: presentation identifier code (CIP), batch number and expiry date.
In addition, all boxes must have a tamper-evident device to verify that the box is not open. The drug distribution circuit is already particularly reliable, but serialization is a further step for patient safety. This is the guarantee that healthcare professionals have verified each drug dispensed in pharmacies or hospitals.
This implementation required major adaptations of their production lines by the drug companies. It represents an investment estimated between 120 and 150 million euros.
Mechanisms similar to serialization are developing in many countries: China, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Argentina, and some are already being implemented in Russia, Egypt, Brazil, and the United States.