Meeting examines illegal medicines trade worth $75 billion annually

        In the light of concerns over the illegal trade in counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs products in Moldova and Ukraine, EUBAM carried out an international operational meeting on the subject at its headquarters in Odessa on 16-17 April.

        The phenomenon of counterfeit medicinal products is a growing organsied-crime threat, damaging to citizens from the point of view of public health, to business for the breaches of Intellectual Property Rights, and to government for the lost revenues arising from such crimes.

        The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 10% of the global pharmaceutical drugs market is comprised of counterfeit products, but this proportion rises to as much as 20% in former Soviet countries. Globally, the illicit market was worth an estimated $75 billion in 2010.

        Last week’s meeting was attended by representatives from EUBAM’s Moldovan and Ukrainian state-agency partner services and by experts from Moldovan and Ukrainian forensic institutes. International experts from the Polish National Institute of Drugs were also in attendance to lend their expertise and allow further deepening of contacts with Moldovan and Ukrainian law-enforcement agencies.

        At the heart of discussions were the competences needed by all agencies in order to tackle organised crime and deal with investigations, including those supported by EUBAM. The benefits accruing from further international bilateral cooperation between Moldovan and Ukrainian agencies and EU organisations such as the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and the European Directorate for Quality of Medicines and Health Care were also outlined.

        Participants also addressed the idea of assistance in drafting recommendations on legislation in both countries; these would be in line with the EU convention ‘Medicrime’ – the first legal document criminalizing the production and distribution of counterfeit medical products – and continued within the context of EUBAM’s ‘Working Group III’ (on Intellectual Property Rights).