Sale Of Fake Drugs Dominates WIPO Workshop Discussion

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has expressed concern about the continuous manufacture and distribution of counterfeit and pirated consumables including medicine for sale to the unsuspecting public. Speaking at the close of the WIPO three-day workshop on Dangers of Counterfeit Goods to Public Health, Mrs Louise Van Greunen, Director of building respect for Intellectual Property (IP) at WIPO, said the problem existed all over the world with worse incidents in the developing world. She said, “Thousands die every year due to consumption of counterfeit medicine. As patients, they are convinced that they are undergoing treatment while in reality some of them are taking fake drugs”, and stressed the need to find ways of addressing the problem. Mrs Greunen said pirated consumable products for sale to the public has serious consequences since the products can cause a lot of harm including loss of lives and appealed to the public to wary of the kinds of products that they purchase from the market. She appealed to the media to join the campaign to fight against counterfeit and pirated products to ensure that people benefited from the patent rights and for nations to also develop their economies. She advised participants to devise strategies that will be used as campaign against piracy in their respective countries to ensure that the public became more aware of the dangers of patronising counterfeit and pirated goods. Mrs Jessica Davies Ba, Deputy Economic Councillor at the US Embassy in Kenya, said the protection of the intellectual property is a fundamental tenant upon which the United States was founded and that a co-protection was crucial for innovations to flourish. She said the US had a strong intellectual property regime that has welcomed innovations on intellectual property from many African countries including Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya as well as other countries the world over who had found a friendly place in order to develop their ideas and to turn them into marketable products. Mrs Ba said the war against intellectual property and piracy is a war that many African countries are fighting including the US and that the menace of counterfeiting is a global problem, a criminal act similar to drug trafficking and other illicit trade. “What we have come to understand about the problem of counterfeiting and piracy is a direct connection between the actors that participate in the illicit trade of counterfeit drugs in the same network with those who trade in illicit drugs, arms, trafficking in human and all kinds of illicit activities." "So as we look at counterfeit products, we are working towards having a strong intellectual property regime in order to encourage innovations in economic developments and to raise awareness against the criminal networks that we see taking strong in many of our countries across the globe”, she said.