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The forthcoming 63rd World Health Assembly (WHA) will discuss ‘counterfeit medical products’.
When drawing up policy recommendations on this issue, it is essential that Member States adopt measures that address public health problems and that counterproductive and harmful solutions are not adopted out of confusion.
Yet recent interventions in this domain have centred on applying an intellectual property (IP) framework – that of trademark counterfeiting – to address what is fundamentally a public health problem. Relying on measures that merely enforce intellectual property is a poor framework for protecting public health. This approach has skewed the response to the fake medicines, and has led to inappropriate and harmful solutions being promoted that fail to ensure patients have access to safe, quality and effective medicines and create barriers to access to medicines.
Before addressing potential solutions, three often overlapping but distinct problems need to be borne in mind.