Issue brief |

Time to Focus on Quality

Médecins Sans Frontières briefing note ahead of the February 2011 meeting of Working Group of WHO Member States on substandard/ spurious/ falsely-labelled/ falsified/ counterfeit medical products Introduction

Both substandard and fake medicines present serious concerns for public health. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) comes across many medicines that are substandard or of unassured quality in our activities in more than 60 countries across the world. However, we see or suspect fake drugs or vaccines more rarely.

Although substandard medicines represent the larger problem from a public health perspective (A/SSFC/WG/3, point 24), recent international attention has been paid mainly to counterfeit goods. MSF welcomes the documents prepared by WHO for this working group which describe well the public health problems and current activities and contain a number of useful proposals (A/SSFFC/WG/2-3). What MSF seeks in this policy debate is a better balanced approach that addresses the problem of both substandard and fake medicines in developing countries, instead of one being ignored to the detriment of the other.