Parallel traders EU counterfeiting response

By Nick Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Parallel trade, Supply chain, European union

Parallel traders have hit back at some of the EU Commission's
anti-counterfeiting measures and big pharma's support for them.

The responses from European Association of Euro-Pharmaceutical Companies (EAEPC) and the Malta Chamber of Small and Medium Enterprises (GRTU) focus on the repackaging ban and implementation of tamper evident seals. In doing so parallel trade would be prevented, which GRTU regards as essential for providing the Maltese population with affordable medicines. GRTU response is particularly fevered, accusing the Commission of pandering to economic interests instead of focusing on patient safety. The impassioned nature of GRTU's response can be felt in the statement: "This is an assault on one of the basic tenets of the very pillars of our treasured set of beliefs and freedoms, that is, the free movement of goods across the whole borderless market of the EU​. "That anyone or anything should attack this basic tenet is shocking. That the attack should be coming from within the Commission is wrong, and we say this with the greatest responsibility and concern​." EAEPC's response is somewhat more restrained but it does regard the Commissions proposals as focusing only "on the already well regulated legal supply chain​" believing this approach is "neither evidence nor risk based, and ignores the larger threat to public health​". It argues that parallel traders have an "exemplary safety record​", with only one counterfeiter known to have got fake medicines into the legitimate supply chain via parallel trade in the last 35 years. Both bodies argue that parallel trade actually provides an extra layer of security in the supply chain, as traders visually inspect the product which results in the removal of defective products from the supply chain. From the big pharma responses Pfizer was particularly vociferous in its criticisms of parallel trade and the impact it has upon the complexity of the supply chain, regarding it as facilitating the entry of counterfeits into the legitimate supply chain. Recent developments have highlighted the level of support Pfizer has on this issue, with the EFPIA regarding a ban on repackaging as the "most powerful tool to prevent counterfeiting in Europe​". EAEPC seems determined to fight its corner though, believing that parallel trade does not facilitate counterfeiting. The group believes that clamping down on internet pharmacies and securing Europe's borders are important areas which the Commissions proposals failed to adequately cover. The focus on repackaging at the expense of these issues is concerning to EAEPC, with the body stating: "Nothing presented thus far justifies radical reforms to the parallel distribution system, as implied by several of the Commission's possible legislative proposals​."

Related topics: Markets & Regulations, QA/QC

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