Clinigen Group plc,the global pharmaceutical and services company, has become a full member of the European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines (EAASM) and Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacy in the EU (ASOP EU), both aiming to protect patients from the dangers of falsified or counterfeit drugs.

EAASM and ASOP are independent, not-for-profit organisations fighting counterfeit medicines and promoting patient safety and improved access to the right medicines, across Europe. A key focus in tackling this threat is educating patients and healthcare professionals of the dangers of internet pharmacies. Although legitimate in appearance, internet pharmacies are often not ethical; they knowingly sell substandard, falsified or counterfeit medicines and drugs that are untested and unapproved, even banned in a patient’s own country. The vast majority do not require a prescription to supply a prescription-only drug, many of which can be dangerous and pose a serious health risk if self-prescribed.

Access to the right medicine is not just a European issue – this is a global crisis with 80% of the world’s population, an estimated 5.5 billion people, experiencing low or non-existent access to medicines, many of which are essential1. Access to unlicensed medicines, which include drugs that have received regulatory approval but may not be available in a patient’s own country, can help to meet this huge unmet need. However, this unmet need has created an opportunity for the illegal production and supply of counterfeit, falsified or sub-standard medicines for profit.

Globally, there has been a significant increase in the supply of substandard and counterfeit drugs; in 2014 the World Customs Organisation highlighted that the worldwide market for counterfeit medicines was worth $200 billion (£130 billion). Clinigen is dedicated to providing an ethical, compliant route for healthcare professionals to source medicines, meeting this need through its Global Access division, Idis GA.

Steve Glass, Group Managing Director, Clinigen, said, ‘As the global market leaders in providing trusted access to unlicensed medicines to meet unmet medical need, we share many common goals with the EAASM and ASOP. Healthcare professionals and patients worldwide face major challenges in guaranteeing safe access to the medicines they need.

‘Clinigen is committed to raising the standards of access to and supply of drugs in both clinical trial and unlicensed medicines, becoming the trusted source of genuine product. Our Global Access division is proud to be able to support the EAASM and ASOP in their valuable work to protect and educate patients across Europe about the dangers of counterfeit medicines.’

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