In advance of the upcoming meeting of the World Health Organization Working Group on Substandard/Spurious/Falsified/Falsely-Labeled/Counterfeit (SSFFC) Medical Products, 55 civil society groups have written its Chairperson to highlight concerns with the improper use of the term “counterfeit.” Excerpt from the joint letter: “The term ‘Counterfeit’ is defined by the WTO-TRIPS Agreement as referring to a specific category of trademark violation and in some legislation to all other intellectual property (IP) violations as well. Against this background WHO’s use of the term ‘Counterfeit’ to refer to compromised medical products would result in confusion and also offer a convenient route for proponents of an extended IP agenda to press for inappropriate IP enforcement standards in developing countries under the false premise that such standards will deliver quality assured pharmaceuticals to the people.”
The letter also asks WHO to “disassociate itself with IMPACT” (the International Medical Products and Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce). Pharmhaceutical companies have played a “central role” in IMPACT, and it has been linked to “entities (e.g. OECD, MNCs, WCO, Interpol) which are very much engaged on matters pertaining to IP enforcement under the banner of ‘anti-counterfeiting’ activities.”
The letter closes by asking the World Health Orgnaization to reorient its program “towards addressing the real casuses and solutions to medical products with compromised [quality, safety and efficacy] in particular frocusing its attention to dealing with high prices of pharmaceuticals, ensuring timely availability of affordable pharmaceuticals, as well as strengthening the capacity of drug regulatory authorities.