The current situation with falsified medicines in the EU: measures to overcome and penalties
The Falsified Medicines Directive (2011/62/EU) (FMD) says that all EU countries should apply adequate and impactful punishments for those people who are involved in the manufacture and distribution of fake medicines. The penalties for this law infringement highly vary across the EU. For instance, the maximum length of imprisonment in Sweden, Finland and Greece is just one year while in Austria, Slovenia and Slovakia it may rise to 15 years. The maximum fines also range a lot across Europe: from 4300 € in Lithuania to €1 million in Spain and even to ‘unlimited’ in the UK.
Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, declared: “I urge all EU countries to make sure that criminals falsifying medicines are punished. After all, falsified medicines can kill. The EU Directive includes several other measures to help citizens steer clear of falsified medicines, notably a common EU logo which helps consumers identify legal online pharmacies that sell authentic and safe products. I encourage all online shoppers to stay safe by looking out for the logo and ensuring that an online pharmacy is legitimate before making a purchase”.
What’s more, a pan-EU authentication system for medicines will be launched in February 2019. This system will allow to check the authenticity of prescribed medicines before giving them to patients.
Falsified medicines may be not only ineffective, but they also may harm patient’s health or even lead to death, and that is why fake medicines are considered to be a serious threat to public health. There are lots of falsified medicines in different therapeutic areas including treatments for cancer, erectile dysfunction, and Hepatitis C. Unfortunately, falsified medicines can and do go into the EU supply system. More than 400 cases of identifying falsified medicines were registered between 2013 and 2017 in the EU countries.