Objections From India Bar Experts Calling For Global Treaty Against Fake Drug Trade From WHO Meeting
“A group of experts calling for a global treaty to stop the lethal trade in fake medicines has been barred from attending a World Health Organization meeting, highlighting deep divisions that are blocking progress on the subject,” Reuters reports (Hirschler, 11/13). In an analysis published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on Tuesday, Amir Attaran of the University of Ottawa and colleagues from the World Federation of Public Health Associations, International Pharmaceutical Federation, and the International Council of Nurses “urge the World Health Organization to set up a framework akin to its one [on] tobacco control to safeguard the public,” BBC News writes. The experts “say while governments and drug companies alike deplore unsafe medicines, it is difficult to achieve agreement on action because discussions too often trespass into conflict-prone areas such as pharmaceutical pricing or intellectual property rights,” the news service writes, adding, “Although some countries prohibit fake medicines under national law, there is no global treaty which means organized criminals can continue to trade using haven countries where laws are lax or absent” (Roberts, 11/13).
“Their article, which sets out a clear case for a fake drugs treaty similar to existing ones on money laundering and human trafficking, comes a week before 100 states hold the first meeting of its kind to discuss the problem in Buenos Aires,” but Attaran “said he was told on Monday by the [WHO] that he and other non-governmental representatives could not attend, following an objection by India,” Reuters reports. “A WHO spokeswoman declined to comment on the details of particular invitations but said it was up to member states to determine who was permitted to attend,” the news service adds. According to Reuters, “The clash exposes distrust among governments, the pharmaceutical industry and health care campaigners about how to tackle fake and dangerous medicines, which are a growing problem in both poor countries and rich” (11/13).