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Trust in drug source may blind wholesalers to counterfeits

By Nick Taylor , 15-Nov-2011

Wholesalers’ trust in the quality of products from some countries could decrease vigilance and allow counterfeits to reach pharmacies, research found.

A survey found an association between Cambodian wholesalers who accept medicines with missing packaging and those that consider the reputation of the manufacturing country during procurement.

It may happen that due to wholesalers trust and [belief in] products of some of the manufacturing countries, they slip from checking or overlook the packaging requirements [when] receiving medicinal consignments”, the Japanese and Cambodian authors wrote in BMC Health Services Research .

Banning packing or repacking by wholesalers would cut the problem but may make transportation less convenient. If Cambodia believes the downsides of this strategy outweigh the benefits, the researchers call for reinforcement of existing regulations with proper labelling requirements.

Researchers surveyed 68 Cambodian wholesalers. More than one-fifth of respondents said they consider the reputation of the manufacturing country when making procurement decisions. Many of these respondents also said they accept medicines with missing or separate packaging.

Counterfeit awareness

The survey found more than one-tenth of Cambodian wholesalers lack a clear conception of what constitutes a counterfeit drug. Some respondents said they do not know what a counterfeit drug is, whereas others thought they are medicines that are cheaper, expired or have less active ingredient.

In these situations, there is a strong need to orient and sensitise wholesalers to issues of counterfeit medicine. Anti-counterfeit measures need to be incorporated into a set of guidelines to be developed for wholesalers”, the authors wrote.

Other findings, such as failure to consider Cambodian registration during procurement, also point to the need for better education. “Information-sharing components in the form of advocacy workshops or meetings should be arranged on a regular basis”, the researchers wrote.

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