As the coronavirus pandemic ripples across the globe, a parallel but lesser-known crisis is growing in its' shadow: the rise of substandard and falsified medical products claiming to prevent, detect, treat, and even cure COVID-19.
In the absence of a coronavirus vaccine, falsified in vitro diagnostic (IVD) test kits, face masks, gloves, sanitizers and medicines have surged globally. Since 11 March 2020, the day that the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, millions of dollars’ worth of falsified medical products have been seized by law enforcement agencies. Operating both online and offline, criminals are exploiting fearful populations, shortages of drugs and personal protective equipment caused by the crisis. Substandard and falsified medical products may fail to treat or may worsen disease and in worst-case scenarios can lead to death.
Friday, 26 June 2020, 2:30 pm (CET)
Ms. Riikka Puttonen, Programme Manager, UNODC
What are substandard and falsified medical products? How do they connect with organized crime? How can the UN Organized Crime Convention help? These are some of the issues that will be discussed in the introduction to this webinar.
Ms. Oksana Pyzik, Founder of University College London (UCL) Fight the Fakes & Senior Teaching Fellow UCL School of Pharmacy
Substandard and falsified medical products are not a new problem; rather, they are a persistent issue that heightens in times of crisis. The WHO estimates that 1 in 10 medicines in low- and middle-income countries are either substandard or falsified, which have widespread public health and wider socio-economic consequences. The fight against substandard and falsified medical products starts with raising public awareness and enhancing education and training of health workers but without regulatory and legislative reform we will continue to pay the unacceptable price of human life.
Mr. Hugo Bonar, Regulatory Consultant and former Enforcement Manager of the Health Products Regulatory Authority, Ireland
For criminals, substandard and falsified medical products are just another business opportunity to make money. All the indicators for criminals capitalising on these opportunities exist, yet many countries were taken by surprise by the surge in substandard and falsified medical products during the COVID-19 pandemic. A short case review to discuss the everyday reality.
Ms. Flavia Romiti, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer, Education for Justice initiative, UNODC