Interpol gets a bit of cash from global drugmakers to fight fake medicine

IInterpol, the international police agency, said Tuesday morning from its headquarters in Lyon, France, that 29 pharmaceutical companies had contributed money to help Interpol catch people peddling fake medicine.

By Big Pharma standards, it was not a lot of money - 4.5 million Euros, which converts to $5.86 million - but enough to establish Interpol's Pharmaceutical Crime Programme, which the agency said was to further work its Medical Product Counterfeiting and Pharmaceutical Crime (MPCPC) unit.

“With no country, no drug, no medical product immune from counterfeiting, a global effort is needed to combat this threat which puts the lives of millions of people at risk every single day,” said Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said in a statement. “This support from a group of 29 companies from the pharmaceutical industry forms a bridge between the public and private sectors and will assist Interpol and each of its 190 member countries to more effectively tackle the problem of medical product counterfeiting.”

Besides catching criminals and disrupting gangs of such folks, the agency said it will try to raise awareness of the danger of fake drugs and the perils of buying them from suspect organizations online.

"Drug counterfeiters put at risk the health of patients around the world by producing substandard and sometimes lethal medicines,” Eli Lilly and Co., chief executive officer John C. Lechleiter said in the statement.

"Putting an end to counterfeiting requires broad, coordinated action on a global scale. This new initiative between the pharmaceutical industry and Interpol is aimed at helping ensure that patients can trust in the safety and efficacy of the medicines they rely on.”