The terms counterfeit and substandard medicines are often used interchangeably. Fake and substandard medicines both present serious concerns to public health, however, despite substandard medicines representing the larger problem of the two, most attention is paid to counterfeit medicines as the use of the term counterfeit has led to interventions focusing on intellectual property enforcement i.e. trademark counterfeiting. Defining counterfeit medicine in such a way means that legitimately produced generic medicines could be confused with and end up being thrown out along with deliberately criminal and dangerous fake medicines, affecting access to safe, life-saving medicines.
KM Gopakumar’s article in February’s edition of Sopaan Step highlights the danger of confusing counterfeit with substandard medicines in India. They argue that while ‘spurious medicines are in circulation, the threat is not as serious as it is made out by big multi-national pharma companies’ and that many such claims are based on very little evidence. The author concludes with a call for caution against the propaganda and presents a way forward based on policy changes, improved monitoring and raised consumer awareness. Read the full article here