IMPACT's Impact

Roger Bate & Karen Porter | 29 Jan 2009
American Enterprise Institute
The World Health Organization (WHO) launched the International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce (IMPACT) in 2006 to combat the global problem of counterfeit pharmaceuticals, which kill untold thousands of people every year. Bringing together nearly two hundred countries, as well as organizations with expertise in enforcement, manufacturing, and patient advocacy, IMPACT has called attention to the commercial and public health costs of medicines that are "deliberately and fraudulently mislabeled" and offered a global forum for discussing solutions. Its successes, however, have been limited by political realities. The task force has focused exclusively on counterfeits while largely ignoring the broader--and more politically sensitive--category of substandard drugs. Its recommendations are subject to the whims of member states, which find it easier to tackle counterfeits rather than substandard drugs because the latter are often manufactured by taxpaying firms within their borders. WHO should either expand IMPACT's focus to combat substandard drugs or otherwise encourage the actions of the few bilateral and multilateral organizations already doing so.

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