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WHO runs Internet alert system to fight against counterfeit medicine
www.chinaview.cn 2005-05-06 18:19:33

    MANILA, May 6 (Xinhuanet) -- An Internet alert system has been established as the World Health Organization (WHO) launches its war against counterfeit drugs, the regional office said Friday.

    Regional Director for the WHO's Western Pacific Office Shigeru Omi said in a news conference that the global health body has unveiled its Rapid Alert System (RAS), the world's first web-based system for tracking the activities of drug cheats, in light of the increasing severity of the counterfeit drugs.

    "The counterfeit drugs trade is an organized trans-national crime. It spans the world and affects both rich countries and poorones," he said.

    According to the WHO's statistics, between 6 percent and 10 percent of medicine on the world market is reported to be counterfeit with estimated sales of over 35 billion US dollars a year. In the South East Asia, in particular, 10 percent of the total on the market are estimated fakes.

    "Mainly, it is the developing countries that suffer. Unlike in the West, most do not have the financial means or the infrastructure to detect and respond to counterfeit medicines," Omi said.

    He said, however, the counterfeit medicines haven't so far attracted enough attention they deserve.

    "The people who produce fake drugs operate in the shadows. We're not sure who they are. And we're not sure where they are based. But we know one thing for certain: They are very dangerous and very cynical," he added.

    The Rapid Alert System, as the director explained, will facilitate the public who believe they have come across counterfeit drugs to go online to report what they have discoveredand attain the assessment of the specialists.

    Through the Internet, the news about the counterfeit medicines can be spread around the region and then around world to warn more public and help law enforcement agencies to track drug counterfeiters, he added.

    However, Omi noted that as the WHO's first attempt to fight against the counterfeit drugs, the alert system can not solve the problems overnight but only to increase public awareness, promote rapid and transparent information sharing, and obtain commitment of the governments and other sectors to address the problem.

    "We believe that unless firm and committed action is taken, anarchy will set in and the public's trust in pharmaceuticals willbe dangerously eroded," he said.

    Check out WHO's Rapid Alert System at http://218.111.249.28/ras/default.asp    Enditem กก

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