Counterfeit Medicine and Pharmaceutical Crime

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11 April 2012

Identifying and fighting counterfeit medicine and pharmaceutical crime was the umbrella under which CEPOL course 08/2012 was held in Melun, France on 26-30 March 2012. The activity, organised by the Central Office for Coordinating Environment and Health Crime (“Office central de lutte contre les atteintes à l'environnement et la santé publique” - OCLAESP), attracted fourteen participants from eleven different Member States. Trainers and experts from Germany, Italy, Spain, the European Commission, Europol and private sectors ensured that participants reflected, shared and obtained a comprehensive overview of the different aspects of this kind of organised crime.

Trafficking in medicines is an important and increasing criminal phenomenon. It impacts hundreds of thousands of victims all over the world and in recent years, appears to be the deadliest of illegal activities. As are other parts of the world, Europe is also a victim but only to a limited extent: thanks to a stringent legal framework and to the social protection of consumers, European patients are well protected. Nevertheless, Europe is often used as a rebound platform between Asia (the continent of production) and Africa (the continent of consumption).

For these reasons trafficking in medicines is foreseen to be a prosperous illegal activity in the coming years. In Europe, the issue is more an economic one than a social one. Our pharmaceutical companies are victims of forgery. This is why the protection of public health along with the protection of intellectual property right should also be taken into account at the same time. The “Medicrime” convention, negotiated within the Council of Europe, aims to harmonise the definition of the violation of laws and their level of sanctions.

Colonel Bruno MANIN, Course Manager from OCLAESP, encouraged participants to share their national best practices and experience, to present possible police response to operationally tackle this form of criminality and to underline possible areas that could benefit from cooperation with EU agencies.

By the end of the course, all trainees recognised the added value of part-taking in top level CEPOL training courses. One of the participants stated in their final evaluation of the course: 'This was a very well organized course; everything was perfect. The topics were very useful and interesting; I am sure that I will use the knowledge I gained during the course. I would be glad to take part in further courses like this one in the future.'

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