Combating piracy in health: a challenge

By ETCO
07/10/2009

Author: Aurimar José Pinto *

Source: Maxpress - SP - OPINION - 07/10/2009

The rise of piracy in all sectors of the economy is frightening. In the health sector, the risk is even greater, as we are talking about a direct reflection on our greatest asset, which is life. According to the World Health Organization, piracy in the area of ​​health products grows at a rate of 15% per year. Considering that world economic growth is far from reaching this figure, it is imperative that the work to combat counterfeiters and smugglers be intensified, so that the legitimate market is not contaminated like other segments.

There are several reasons that we believe to lead this practice, including pressure from the sector for lower prices. It is a secondary market, where counterfeiters have access to the same packaging technologies as the legitimate manufacturer, and further aggravated by electronic commerce, where the origins of the product and the manufacturer are difficult to control and control.

With the intention of stopping this extremely worrying trend, the Brazilian Association of Importers of Medical-Hospital Equipment, Products and Supplies (Abimed) joined a task force coordinated by the American Chamber of Commerce (Amcham), and also made up of other associations, and developed a proposal for technical cooperation to combat piracy, plus a standard operating procedure. The document is in the final stage of analysis by the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa).

The fight against piracy in the sector must go beyond the fight against counterfeit drugs. The other health products, known as correlates, have an even more complex marketing chain, compared to that of medicines, making the work of the inspection authorities even more difficult.

We believe that long-term coordinated work is necessary, which ensures a fine-tuning between Anvisa, industry, health professionals, distributors, hospitals, insurance companies and health plans. The need for communication and education is undeniable for the fight to be effective.

We still do not know how to specify the magnitude of the problem in the area of ​​health products, due to the lack of statistics and records of the facts, but we believe that it will be possible to create this database, as we evolve in this technical cooperation and to combat these deviations. conduct.

Anvisa has already signed cooperation agreements with the Ministry of Justice and the Federal Highway Police, with positive results visible and available in the media. They resulted in the seizure of more than 170 tons of counterfeit drugs in 2009.

The same path needs to be followed in the area of ​​health products. Undoubtedly, it is a struggle that will lead, in the short term, to concrete results if there is a greater engagement of all the actors in this chain in collaborating so that this effort is also the focus of Anvisa's action. Our fight is to minimize the risks that the parallel market brings to the population, and to save human lives, not to mention the risks that this practice brings to the legitimate owners of the records of such products when they are adulterated, smuggled and falsified.

* Aurimar José Pinto is president of the Brazilian Association of Importers of Medical-Hospital Equipment, Products and Supplies (Abimed) - abimed@abimed.org.br