WHPA AGAINST COUNTERFEIT MEDICAL PRODUCTS The World Health Professions Alliance (WHPA) is extremely concerned about the infiltration and sale of counterfeit medical products of the legitimate supply chain. We have been working to prevent this cause of life threatening, adverse effects in patients.
Combating counterfeits – our activities in 2016
Videos for specific target groups
The WHPA has produced a video to raise awareness of the risks of counterfeit medicines and to let people know what they can do to avoid harm from them. The video exploits an interactive function of YouTube to ask the viewer to make a choice between two products.
The next scene the viewer sees depends on the choice made. The aim is to confront people with a situation to which little thought is often given and send home the message that there is an important need to think twice over decisions about medicines.
The video is accompanied by three animated sets of measures that can be taken to avoid fake medicines, aimed at consumers, health care professionals and policymakers. Consumers, for instance, are given advice on how to make sure that medicines bought online are real, and health care professionals are reminded which features of medicines to inspect. Through the third set of measures, the WHPA calls on policymakers to strengthen laws against counterfeiting and to involve health care professionals in policy decisions so that these are appropriate to real-life and more likely to be put into practice.
A standalone, non-interactive version of the video and measures has been designed to be played at conferences. It is available for free from firstname.lastname@example.org.
The video has been shared among WHPA member organisations and on social media.
Activities in 2015 WHPA statements on counterfeits at major World Health Organization meetings
In May 2015, the WHPA made an intervention at the 68th World Health Assembly, calling for resources to be allocated, consistency, integration and coordination among solutions adopted at local level (because there is an increasing number of different initiatives from both public and private sectors) and for a simple reporting process.
In January 2015, during the WHO Executive Board meeting, the WHPA made interventions on substandard/spurious/falsely-labelled/falsified/counterfeit (SSFFC) medical products, and supported the WHO’s crucial role in ensuring the availability of quality, safe, efficacious and affordable medical products. We specifically highlighted the role of health professionals in communicating safety messages. Campaigns are usually more effective when they are jointly organised by the regulatory authorities and healthcare professionals associations. WHPA reconfirmed the commitment of health care professionals and their associations to fighting SSFFC. The full intervention is available here: http://www.fip.org/files/fip/10-3_WHPA_on_SSFFC.pdf
Handbook on spurious medicines
Under the lead of FIP, the WHPA developed a handbook for healthcare professionals entitled “All you need to know about spurious medicines”, in cooperation with the Indian Pharmaceutical Association. This contains interventions (e.g. tips, advice) on prevention, detection, and advocacy on how to fight and minimise this threat with the aim of increasing knowledge as well as changing behaviours.
Activities in 2014
Aiming to provide support to develop and implement innovative approaches against counterfeit medicine on national levels, WHPA launched a programme of “Small Grants 2013/2014”.
We encouraged WHPA member organisations and WHPA-related student member organisations to take innovative approaches to:
Implement the “WHPA Call to Action” in their countries
Improve collaboration among health professionals and patient organisations through establishing interprofessional committees to combat counterfeit medical products in their countries
Advocate activities to health decision-makers and other key stakeholders
Encourage behavioural change among the public to only buy medical products from known and reliable sources
Eligible projects needed to be presented by at least two associations of different health professions in the same country. Proposals that included collaborations with patients’ organisations were strongly encouraged.
The Colegio de Farmacéuticos, the Defensoría del Pueblo and the Consejo de Salud Provincial of the Province of Buenos Aires teamed up to organise a campaign to raise awareness on the issue of falsified medicines among the population of the province and to share the following key messages:
Do not purchase medicines over the internet
Do not self-medicate
Do not buy medicines in other places than pharmacies (at it would then be an illegal and non-trustworthy source)
Report to the authorities any possible suspicious or falsified medicines
The campaign was officially launched in the assembly of the province on 20 August 2013.
A poster and patient leaflet were especially created for this campaign. 100,000 posters were printed. The campaign was also relayed by radio messages and weekly TV spots.
Ethiopia: Media campaign against counterfeit medical products
This project was driven by the Ethiopian Pharmaceutical Association (EPA) and Ethiopian Public Health Association (EPHA).
It was also associated with the Pharmaceutical Fund and Supply Agency (PFSA) and Food, Medicine and Healthcare Administration and Control Authority (FMHACA) of Ethiopia.
It consisted of a 70-second radio clip in Amharic, based on script developed by the partners of the project. The script was as follows:
It was broadcasted for a month, excluding Saturdays and Sundays, every morning between 28 February 2013 and 29 March 2013 on all the nine FM radio stations of the Fana Broadcasting Corporate namely, Addis Ababa, Jimma, Dessie, Gonder, Nekemt, Haromaya, Shashemene, Mekelle and Welayta Sodo (intended to cover every part of the country).
Positive feedback has been received from pharmacists and other healthcare professionals nationwide. Some even suggested continuing this activity on a regular basis.
Lesotho: Building capacity for stakeholder participation to prevent counterfeit medical products
This project aimed to build capacity for stakeholder participation to the prevention of counterfeit medical products in Lesotho. It was supported by the Lesotho Nurses Association, the Lesotho Medical Association, the Lesotho Pharmaceutical Association, the Lesotho Association of Micro-laboratory services.
The project led to the organisation of the first multi-team forum on the threat of counterfeit health products in Lesotho on 5 October 2013.
The seminar aimed to create awareness on a fast growing trend to market and to inform the public on various informal health sector messages, products and implications to client care.
It also enabled input from the different stakeholders on how to improve the current situation, while stimulating the collaboration between the different healthcare professionals and their associations.
Following the seminar, a first meeting of the executive committees of the five health associations was organised as a national forum on counterfeits. About 30 leaders attended and the Deputy Minister of Health supported this event with addressing and officially opening the activity on March 20, 2014. This event was shared with the media.
Philippines: Integration of counterfeit medicines education and vigilance in health profession education and continuing professional development
The project aimed to develop an educational framework for health profession students and practitioners that would incorporate counterfeit medicines education and vigilance in university training and continuing professional education. The framework outlined the relevant content, and the mechanism related to how pharmacists and medical doctors can be oriented and trained on the full array of issues surrounding counterfeit medicines proliferation in the country using educational interventions.
This project was structured as follows:
Create a core working group (CWG) comprised of experts in the field of pharmacy and medicine that is tasked to coordinate the overall design and pilot implementation of educational interventions. It consisted of four pharmacists and two medical doctors: Leonila M. Ocampo, Minerva Calimag, Yolanda R. Robles, Imelda G. Peña, Roderick L. Salenga and Adrian Paul J. Rabe.
Develop a curriculum guide on counterfeit medicines education and vigilance designed to be easily integrated into existing health education curricula of pharmacy and medical schools, and in the professional organisations’ continuing professional education programmes. (The curriculum was structured in 4 modules.)
Develop teaching-learning materials necessary to implement the established curriculum guide.
Train pharmacy and medical educators from selected universities on how to use the materials.
Train the speakers’ bureaus of the national pharmacy and medical associations on how to use the materials for continuing education of practitioners
The project was designed to make available expert-approved, evidence-based educational resources designed to forward the medicines quality consciousness among healthcare professions students and practitioners. With the use of such materials, it was hoped that pharmacists and medical doctors would be competent in performing their crucial roles in assuring quality of medicines, prescribing, dispensing and patient education, with the end goal of eliminating counterfeit medicines proliferation in the Philippines.
This project was completed in May 2013 with the training of pharmacy and medical educators from selected universities on how to use the materials and of the speakers’ bureaus of the national pharmacy and medical associations on how to use the materials for continuing education of practitioners.
Rwanda: Sensitisation against illegal health practices and counterfeit medical products
Developed by the Rwanda Physiotherapy Association and the Rwanda Nutritionist Society, this project consisted of a communication campaign toward Rwandan population stressing the fact that people should only buy and use medical products from known and reliable sources.
This campaign was launched in the Kigali stadium on 23 March 2013 and included the distribution of T-shirts with the key campaign message. A walk with governmental officials was also organised.
Throughout the month of March 2013, radio messages were broadcasted on local and national radio as well as a television programme.
Posters and banners were also displayed at various places, especially in hospitals and clinics.
For more information about the WHPA counterfeit medical products campaign, please email