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Pharmaceutical society concerned about counterfeit medicines

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica (PSJ) has expressed concern about counterfeit medicines being sold locally; and has been advising its membership to be cognizant of the registered distributors and manufacturers of medical products approved to conduct business in Jamaica.

PSJ said it continues its drive to combat counterfeits through continuing education and by raising awareness among its membership and other health professional groups and clients.

The society warned that counterfeit medicines can be toxic, and pharmacists are vital in ensuring the safety of medications used by patients.

PSJ further outlined that:

• Pharmacists are responsible for the integrity of the supply chain, ranging from manufacturer to distributor and, ultimately, to the patient.

• They ensure medications are purchased from known reliable sources, minimize the risk of and exposure to counterfeit medical products

• They can warn patients about the dangers of purchasing medications over the internet and monitor counterfeit medication alerts – stay informed

• They inspect all medication packages for faulty seals and labels, which safe guard products

• They should destroy empty packages/containers to prevent re-use.

• They should report any suspicious counterfeit medications through 'PharmWatch'.

• They should act quickly to change the medicine if it is substandard or counterfeit.

• Always report the suspected counterfeit to the appropriate authorities.

• Reassure the patient on the way forward and reassess therapy consequently.

• Assist in ensuring replacement of any suspect medicines so the patient is not left without treatment.

The PSJ said although the scale of counterfeit medicines worldwide was difficult to determine, it is estimated that the prevalence of counterfeit medicines ranges from less than one per cent of sales in developed countries, to between 10-30 per cent in developing countries, depending on the geographical area.

Counterfeit medicines and medical products are defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as Substandard Medical Products or “out of specification” and these are authorised medical products that fail to meet either their quality standards or their specifications, or both.

The medicines can also be classified as unregistered/unlicensed medical products, which are medical products that have not undergone evaluation and/or approval by the national or regional regulatory authority for the market in which they are marketed/distributed or used, subject to permitted conditions under national or regional regulation and legislation.

WHO also noted that there are falsified medical products that deliberately/fraudulently misrepresent their identity, composition or source.

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