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Message from the WCO Secretary General at the Johns Hopkins University Symposium on public health strategies for combating counterfeit drugs

04 十二月 2023

On 1st December 2023, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), addressed the audience virtually at the Johns Hopkins University Symposium on public health strategies for combating counterfeit drugs. The Johns Hopkins University is the United States’ first research university, founded in 1876.

The symposium aimed to pave the way for transformative partnerships between public health researchers, drug manufacturers and suppliers, regulatory and law enforcement agencies, policymakers and program implementers. This collaboration is crucial for addressing the issue of counterfeit medicine.

The core objective of the symposium was to identify highly effective intervention strategies to address the challenges faced by healthcare providers, consumers, and patients.

During the first panel related to the Global burden of counterfeit drugs, Secretary General Mikuriya set the scene by highlighting the increase in counterfeit medicines with some key figures. He stressed that “compared with other types of illicit trade, including opioids, explosives and revenue fraud, counterfeit medicines provide a low risk and high profit business opportunity. They exploit regulatory weakness where Customs are not sufficiently empowered, and judiciary authorities are often less inclined to pursue the legal cases, because of the light penalties”.

To address this significant challenge, the Secretary General emphasized the WCO's strategy to assist its Members by creating a secure communication tool data’s analysis and risk indications, increasing awareness, and undertaking global operations such as STOP to rapidly combat the illegal trafficking of medical products in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To conclude, the SG reiterated the need to further strengthen cooperation between all actors in this area, as combating counterfeit drug would not be successful in isolation.