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Health, industry officials look for ways to combat counterfeit drug spread


WASHINGTON — Keynote speeches by pharmaceutical industry and regulatory leaders got top billing as more than 140 government, healthcare industry, law enforcement and patient advocacy officials gathered to find ways to combat the spread of counterfeit medicines.

Food and Drug Administration commissioner Margaret Hamburg was the keynote speaker of the conference, organized by the Partnership for Safe Medicines, with additional speakers such as Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America president and CEO John Castellani and Generic Pharmaceutical Association president and CEO Ralph Neas, as well as U.S. and British government officials.

"The American people have every right to expect that the medicines they rely on are exactly what the package and label say they are, and that the medicines have been carefully evaluated by FDA for safety, efficacy and quality," Hamburg said. "Our success in addressing this global challenge will depend on collaborating with public health and regulatory partners here in the United States and around the world."

The news comes the same day the FDA announced the launch of BeSafeRx, a campaign to educate patients and caregivers about the risks of buying drugs from rogue online pharmacies. Many of the drugs purchased from such pharmacies are counterfeit or adulterated.

"In an increasingly global society, heightened cooperation and information sharing between stakeholders around the world is an invaluable tool to help us identify and put a stop to the criminals who prey upon our most vulnerable citizens," Partnership for Safe Medicines treasurer Tom Kubic said. "And as more allies join our cause, we are better able to spread our message and educate the public at large about the extreme risks of counterfeit medicines and how to protect themselves and their families."

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