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Patient safety the basis for new measures to tackle potentially lethal fake medicines


27 Apr 2010


Health & Consumers

Press conference: Today April 27th 14.00 PHS A050, European Parliament Press Room

Following the vote on her report on Falsified Medicines in today's European Parliament Environment and Public Health Committee meeting, Portuguese GUE/NGL MEP Marisa Matias said "an important step has been taken by MEPs towards protecting patient safety and preventing potentially lethal falsified medicines being sold in Europe."

"In today's vote we were able to propose the extension of the legal basis of a directive initially only focused on the internal market but now focused on public health. There has been a dangerous increase in falsified medicines on the market in recent years with some products infiltrating legal supply chains and posing a serious threat to patients. Falsification is a crime and must therefore carry serious penalties. On several counts, the original Commission proposal was simply not up to the mark" she said.

The Matias report improves safety-features and requirements on products and introduces provisions to deal with the selling of falsified medicines through the internet, a key market not covered by the original Commission proposal. 

"Without our amendments, the internet would have operated as the 'Trojan horse' for fake medicines. We can not leave the largest gateway for counterfeit drugs in Europe out of this legislation. We must clearly distinguish between legal and illegal online pharmacies, guiding consumers to the former with a new EU logo for approved sites and the listing of licensed online pharmacies. Finally, public awareness campaigns and information about the risks of buying from unaccredited pharmacies must be enhanced."

The Matias report, unlike the Commission proposal, addresses the control and distribution of falsified medicines to third countries. "It is difficult to explain why we have stringent provisions for medicines that enter the European market but no provisions for medicines which are exported to third countries in Africa, South America or Asia".

"After nine months of debate and dialogue, Parliament is now in a strong position to negotiate with Council on the dimensions of the legislation still open for discussion", the rapporteur concluded.


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