EU to trace pharmaceuticals in crackdown on fakes

By Huw Jones

STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - Pharmaceuticals in the European Union will be traceable from factory to pharmacy in a bid to crack down on the rise in counterfeit drugs, which are potentially lethal, the bloc’s executive said on Wednesday.

EU Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen said the 27-nation bloc used to be a transit area for counterfeit medicines being shipped to third countries but was now a target.

“It’s a huge threat to public health and can cost people’s lives in some cases,” Verheugen told the European Parliament.

“The (European) Commission will come up with a legal act to tighten up the framework,” Verheugen said.

The Commission has said Switzerland, home to some of the world’s top pharmaceutical firms, surprisingly topped the table of origins of fake medicines, ahead of India.

European consumers are also ordering more pirated products, notably fake Viagra, over the Internet.

Verheugen said the new EU rules will document all the points in a drug’s lifespan, from sourcing its active ingredients to manufacture and distribution to pharmacies.

“The technical solutions required to ensure traceability of medicines already exist,” Verheugen said.  Continued…

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