THE Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) has forged an agreement with Pharmaceutical Security Institute (PSI) to curtail the proliferation of counterfeit medicines and pharmaceutical products in the domestic market.

“This synergy with PSI will help us better protect the value of IP that is meant for our country’s economic gain and, of course, protect our consumers, especially where fake products involved can harm health and cost a life,” IPOPHL Director General Rowel S. Barba said at the virtual signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) last November 18.

Under the MOU, a framework for the capacity building, awareness and exchange of information relevant to curb the sale, supply and consumption of counterfeit medicines and pharmaceutical products will be established, according to the IPOPHL.

The IPOPHL argued that the partnership was made to “address the challenge of delivering safe medicines and ensuring integrity across the pharmaceutical supply chain.”

The MOU noted that this challenge is raising greater concern today, hence, “the need for enhanced cooperation between pharmaceutical industries and government agencies overseeing intellectual property (IP) has become more urgent.”

PSI President and CEO Todd Ratcliffe pointed out that there is a need for “international-scale collaborations” to  combat the increase of counterfeit medicines and pharmaceutical products in the market.

Ratcliffe noted that globally, investigative groups on counterfeiting are underfunded and there is a low prioritization of such cases, despite their grave threat to public health and safety.

“Counterfeiting has been seeing ‘a drastic shift’ in the past six years from lifestyle drugs, like weight loss steroids, to life-saving drugs, such as cancer medications, where more profit can be made,” Ratcliffe said.

PSI said its “vast intelligence base of bad actors,” a collection from its over 20 years of work, will be its biggest contribution to its collaboration with IPOPHL.

“We encourage our members to call us at the very beginning of a case to see if we know something [and] 50 percent of the time, we have a positive fit on our database,” Ratcliffe said.

“All PSI members are required to share information to cooperate with law enforcement regulators and help protect public health,” Ratcliffe added.

The PSI is a non-profit, membership organization dedicated to sharing information on the counterfeiting of pharmaceuticals and initiating enforcement actions through the appropriate authorities.

With 37 pharmaceutical manufacturer-members from various countries, the Virginia-based PSI runs representative offices in Miami, Florida, Singapore and Stockholm.

Preliminary data from the IPOPHL-led National Committee on IP Rights show that cases of fake pharmaceutical and personal care products totaled P29.04 million from January to July this year from P1.46 million in the comparable period in 2020.

In May 2021 alone, the International Criminal Police Organization seized $23 million worth of counterfeit and illicit medicines and medical products, with unauthorized Covid-19 testing kits accounting for more than half.





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