An 'informal online gathering' of researchers, experts and policy makers interested in the links between medicines quality and public health, took place on 3 December 2020. It was the third of a series of informal events that started in person in 2019, thanks to the initiative of Paul Newton at Oxford University/IDDO/MORU, with the intent to share research projects, brainstorm on research ideas and identify synergies and collaborations among relevant stakeholders.
Eight months into the pandemic, parts of the world are now facing second and third waves of COVID-19. As winter approaches, experts warn that ongoing shortages of medical products needed for COVID-19 and other illnesses will worsen alongside surging cases and new hot spots. These grim projections, however, also shed a brighter light on the way forward.
Report: The link between constrained access to quality, safe, efficacious and affordable medical products and substandard and falsified medical products
At its eighth meeting, the Member State mechanism on substandard and falsified medical products agreed a list of prioritized activities for the period 2020–2021. Activity D of that list aims to increase Member States’ knowledge around the links between substandard and falsified medical products and access to quality, safe, efficacious and affordable medical products.
Ruth Lee of US Pharmacopeia (USP) shares the work of the MedsWeCanTrust Campaign at the ASEF Forum.
Four ways to strengthen the medical product supply chain and protect patients from poor-quality medicines
Substandard and falsified medical products (SFs), otherwise known as poor-quality medical products, put people’s health and lives at risk. From antibiotics and cancer medicines to antimalarial treatments, SFs pose a significant danger to public health in developing as well as developed countries. In the case of antimalarials, substandard versions with the wrong dose of active ingredient can lead to a rise in drug-resistant malaria, a threat to the 2030 elimination goal in the Asia–Pacific region. Participants in an upcoming Malaria Gamechangers Health Innovation Series roundtable on medicine quality on 2 December 2020 will discuss the importance of medical product quality, highlighting threats that SFs pose to malaria elimination and infectious disease control, as well as innovations to detect substandard and falsified medicines.
In light of mounting pressure to discover, develop and deploy an effective and quality COVID-19 vaccine, it is more important than ever to trust the experts with a long legacy of making regulatory decisions based on science. This regulatory approval process has been foundational to ensuring trust in essential medicines and will be key to fostering trust in quality COVID-19 products.
In the past few months, we have seen how substandard and falsified (SF) medical products undermine the COVID-19 response. Supply chain disruptions and urgent demand have increased the risk of poor-quality medicines and unproven cures, highlighting an unprecedented need for regulators to ensure timely access to safe and effective quality medical products.
The Medicine Quality Research Group has published a six-month Medical Product Quality Report focused on COVID-19 today, using its Medicine Quality Monitoring Globe tool. New reports will be issued monthly from now on, following the first January - June publication.
Europe should lead in coordinated procurement of quality-assured medicines for programmes in low-income and middle-income countries
Thoughtful procurement policies in humanitarian and development medical programmes can mitigate the risk of purchasing poor-quality medicines, allowing to address fundamental moral obligation to equity, transparency and accountability. European donors are aware of the quality problems in the global pharmaceutical market, and some are already translating awareness into explicit procurement and quality assurance policies. However, a joint position and coordinated action is lacking. European donors should share existing knowledge and tools, seek the input of recipient countries, and develop a joint position on how the donor community can help to ensure access to affordable and quality-assured health products—also during public health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Applying stringent and harmonised quality assurance requirements, European donors and their implementing organisations can help shaping the global pharmaceutical market towards affordable, quality assured products.
Substandard and falsified medicines pose a major threat to global health. Poor-quality medicines cause more than one million deaths per year, reduce the effectiveness of authentic medical treatment, waste national resources, and contribute to antimicrobial resistance. Global pandemics like COVID-19 can disrupt the supply of quality-assured medicines and lead to increased proliferation of substandard and falsified medicines.