Director General/Executive Director
Remarks at the UNODC Conference on the Illicit Trafficking of Fraudulent Medicines
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very glad to be here today at this high level conference on the illicit trafficking of fraudulent medicines and their impact across the world.
I am also extremely pleased to see the representatives of so many other organizations who have made significant contributions on this vital issue.
Today is, indeed, a historic day for UNODC because we are focusing on one of the very newest forms of global criminal challenges.
However, what really matters is that fraudulent medicines are a severe public health risk. They deserve our full attention.
Where medicine is designed to bring treatment and relief, fraudulent medicines deliver only suffering, misery and even death.
In West Africa, for example, it is estimated that at least 10 per cent of imported medicines are fraudulent.
Thanks to this crime, confidence in public health is falling and the costs of health are rising in countries that can ill afford such costs.
We, therefore, confront a health threat, a development challenge, but also a crime organized on a transnational scale.
And this illicit business is attractive to criminals. Profits are high, the risk of detection low.
UNODC estimated in 2010 that the annual market for fraudulent medicines, exported from Asia to South East Asia and Africa, was worth US$1.6 billion.
The UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime is the basis for our work and for the cooperation necessary to confront this crime.
UNTOC provides for the exchange of information, the application of investigative powers, and information sharing that is often invaluable in these types of criminal operations.
I call on every nation to not only ratify the Convention, but also to ensure it is fully implemented.
The early adoption of an efficient review mechanism for the implementation of UNTOC will be invaluable; particularly in the fight against fraudulent medicines.
We also need proper integration between local national crime strategies and our overall international approach.
This co-operation is needed as there are reports of fraudulent medicines being detected in the supply chains of both developed and developing countries.
As a result, effective public health delivery is being threatened.
UNODC has also been given a strong mandate from Member States and we intend to work closely with them, as well as the many other organizations present today.
Our strategic approach must be interconnected and founded on the key strengths of partnerships and close cooperation.
For our work to be truly effective we must connect health strategies to crime strategies. This can only be achieved by complementing the work of others and by listening, by learning, but above all, by sharing.
Building a global picture of this crime is also fundamental. Considerable knowledge gaps remain in our understanding of trafficking in fraudulent medicines.
This is why UNODC, as requested by Member States, will continue to intensify its research effort in order to help build knowledge and design increasingly effective responses.
And then we must leverage this knowledge and transfer it to our operations.
UNODC's goal is to help national authorities heighten the risk of detection and to generate greater supply chain security.
In partnership with other organizations we can bring added value through our expertise in a number of fields.
One of these fields is the Global Container Control Programme, which we co-manage with the World Customs Organization.
There are now more than 30 Joint Port Control Units around the world.
All of the units work closely with other relevant national authorities to increase the detection and identification of fraudulent medicine shipments.
In tackling fraudulent medicines, we need to identify the ringleaders, and their criminal organizations, seize their assets and prevent them laundering their criminal proceeds.
In this respect, our work with Interpol and Europol is essential
Our Global Programme on Money Laundering is also delivering technical assistance to law enforcement agencies and financial intelligence to combat illicit financial flows.
UNODC is also working to create networks of central authorities and prosecutors to strengthen the criminal justice chain through best practices and exchanges of information.
We can also bring added value at the international level through the UN Task Force on Transnational Organized Crime created in 2011 by the UN Secretary General.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
When a sick child or ill mother is in need of medicine, they must be given something that is effective.
We must not let them suffer in pain and misery due to the greed of criminals.
For this reason, fraudulent medicine is not a national or even a regional problem. It is our global problem.
I hope that, by working together, we can help restore trust in the medicines that keep all of us healthy.