Interpol, Europol and national medicine agencies are working on sequestering fake medicines as each year they find they have to close down illegal internet sites. Last Saturday, the European Commission began applying new rules to increase safety in the medicine which is sold with a doctor’s prescription in every EU country.
Between 2013 and 2017, the European Commission received around 400 notifications of fake medicines. In 2017 alone, the EU border seized fake medicine valued at almost €7 million.
The Chairman of the Medicines Authority, Prof Anthony Serracino Inglott, told TVM that fake medicine has certain active ingredients which are of low quality and the wrong dosage. He warned that this can be dangerous to one’s health. For consumers to be protected from this non-authorised medicine, medicine packets will start carrying a special safety code known as 2D.
Prof. Serracino Inglott said, “this device is a kind of barcode and will be specific to the medicine in every individual packet which will be identified and needs to be given up at the time the medicine is given to the patient.”
He said that these changes will not be apparent at first, since companies may continue to sell the products they have in stock. Therefore, at first, packets will be available at chemists with the 2D barcode and without it.
Prof. Serracino Inglott said, “as it has always done, the Authority will be vigilant to ensure that Maltese and European patients will be given a service where we can better ensure the methods to monitor good quality medicine.”
The European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, said that more work is required to ensure that the new system is functioning properly. He said that this is another level of safety for citizens to be protected from non-authorised medicine, which is not effective and may be dangerous.