Friday, April 13, 2007

Damned if they do…

A headline in The Independent reads: Drug giants accused of ignoring fake medicines that kill millions based on a new documentary called Africa: The Malaria Parasites. From the documentary’s web site:

“Given the dangers that fake drugs pose, questions are being asked about why the problem wasn’t tackled earlier. ‘The drugs companies wanted the problem kept hidden so that it doesn’t affect their legitimate business’, alleges Dr Akunyili.”

Huh?? Don’t drug companies lose sales and brand reputation because of counterfeits?!?

Although the filmmakers apparently don’t want to be bothered with the facts, I must point out the following inconvenient truths:
  • The industry tells Congress about the dangers of counterfeits entering the legitimate supply chain due to illegal diversion. Senator Dorgan accuses the industry of simply trying to maintain pricing power and blithely disregards the FDA’s factual presentation about safety concerns. (See Import Battle Heats Up.)
  • The FDA tries to lift the stay on implementation of the pedigree requirements of the PDMA. Wholesalers operating in the secondary market, who I believe should reasonably expect a higher level of scrutiny, successfully get a court injunction to block the FDA. (See The Impact of the PDMA Injunction.)
  • Pfizer overhauls its UK distribution system following repeated incidents of counterfeit drugs. The company is promptly sued by wholesalers and subject to an investigation by UK’s Office of Fair Trading. (See Pfizer wins again.)
  • PhRMA operates to educate consumers about the dangers of counterfeit drugs. PhRMA is also a North American partner in No cover-up here.
  • The introduction of Inventory Management Agreements (IMAs) and Fee-for-Service agreements now limit product leakage into the grey market, closing a significant entry point for counterfeiters. Drug makers literally pay for greater product security by purchasing data from wholesalers to monitor orders, inventories, and product movement in real-time. Yet the critics can’t bring themselves to give credit for the industry’s progress with supply chain security.
I could go on, but you get the idea.

Drug makers are damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

1 comment:

  1. While I haven't seen the film (or even heard of it before now), this is an absolutely spot-on assessment. When it comes to counterfeits and wholesale diversion issues, the industry can't win. They will always be criticized for not doing enough to stop it, while also being backhanded for trying to implement proactive solutions.

    Excellent (and timely) article!