Annual WHO meeting to tackle spread of substandard drugs

By Nick Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: World health organization

Annual WHO meeting to tackle spread of substandard drugs
The WHO is urging countries to collaborate on tackling substandard drugs and strengthening supply chains at a new annual meeting.

At the 65th World Health Assembly (WHA) an executive board recommended creating a ‘mechanism’ for countries to collaborate on tackling substandard drugs. By bringing countries together and urging them to invest in the area the World Health Organization (WHO) hopes to ensure drug quality.

The executive board wrote​: “[We recognise] the need to enhance support to national and regional regulatory authorities to promote the availability of quality, safe and efficacious medical products​.”

To achieve this goal the executive board proposes that member states meet at least once a year to share best practices, develop tools, strengthen regulatory capacities, and take other steps to cut the spread of substandard drugs.

Industry will play a role too. When necessary, member states can invite stakeholders to contribute to the meetings, which will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, “in a transparent and coordinated manner​”.

Funding is needed to support these efforts. The executive board found the WHO lacks sufficient financing for its drug quality efforts and urges member states to give it more resources.

Generic supply

Over the past few years NGOs (non-governmental organisations) have raised concerns about the intellectual property implications of WHO anti-counterfeiting efforts. Sections of the latest report seem to try to calm these concerns.

The executive board report states the importance of ensuring the supply of generics while tackling substandard drugs, going as far as to call for collaboration within the WHO to stop one interfering with the other.

WHO and its member states can be especially proud of their consistent ability to reach agreement on global governance instruments…like the need to manage intellectual property rights in fair ways, for industry, but most especially for public health​”, Margaret Chan, director general of the WHO, said.

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