Sanofi works to secure Egyptian drug supply chain

By Wai Lang Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Counterfeit drugs Pharmaceutical industry Sanofi

French drug maker Sanofi-Aventis continues to spearhead the fight for a more secure pharmaceutical supply chain by launching an anti-counterfeit medication initiative in Egypt.

The move is the first of a three-phase initiative undertaken by the drug company and the Egyptian Ministry of Health to try to address and counter the growing problem of drug manufacturing infiltration and medicine counterfeiting in the country.

Like most countries, Egypt has not been spared the curse of drug counterfeiting where no region or therapeutic class is spared. Many countries, including the US have sourced their influx of counterfeit drugs, such as Viagra, back to Egypt.

Under the new project, Sanofi have worked alongside the country’s authorities providing them with guidance and training on the latest techniques in identifying counterfeit medication.

Staff from Sanofi led an Egyptian delegation including officials from the Ministry of Health, the Customs Authority and the Ministry of Interior's Anti-smuggling Unit from the Ministry of Finance, to its Central Anti-Counterfeit Laboratory based in Tours, France.

The delegation also visited the Customs Authority located in Le Havre to examine its anti-smuggling measures before visiting the French Ministry of Health.

In a roundtable meeting hosted by Sanofi-Aventis to evaluate the results of the first phase of the initiative, Dr. Niven Al-Khoury, Sanofi-Aventis Public Affairs Director, told​: "This initiative is one of the mechanisms adopted by Sanofi-Aventis to protect the patients through fighting counterfeit medication in the Egyptian market, a phenomenon that risks the lives of many people."

Over the last couple of years Sanofi have been making significant ground on tackling the problem of counterfeit drugs. Its Tours laboratories, opened in 2008, are the first of its kind and illustrate the measures pharma companies have to go to in order to secure it manufacturing and worldwide production capabilities.

As counterfeiters’ methods become increasingly more sophisticated, the pharma industry has had to look into equally advanced technologies to thwart their efforts.

For example, Sanofi’s laboratories routinely conduct direct examinations of packaging items and leaflets as well as definitive chemical tests on suspect samples of commonly counterfeited products.

Staff at the lab have developed test methods, distributing them globally in order to allow industrial plants to inspect and test, with the same criteria, the suspect products corresponding to those manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis.

The drug firm have also introduced centralised ‘Identity Cards’​ for the counterfeit drugs found, in a single, central data base, to make it possible to compare different types of counterfeit.

Sanofi’s collaboration with Egypt is part of efforts by its Government to tackle a problem that is picked up on globally and tarnishes the county’s reputation. Data from Business Monitor International (BMI) has identified Egypt as having made significant progress in tackling the counterfeit drug problem in the last two years.

The Egyptian government have actively discussed the issue of IP protection within the country. Reforms in IP law have been enthusiastically examined among ministries, industries, interest groups and foreign trade delegations

Two other major areas that have also received special attention by Egyptian authorities are provisional measures and border controls.

For its Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Report for Egypt, BMI forecasts that drug spending will increase from $2.34bn in 2008 to $4.10bn by 2013, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.8% over the five year period.

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