Reported by Deng Quei-Fen and Liu Chia-Yun from Taipei
The report of counterfeit Crestor, a blockbuster for treating hyperlipidemia, has aroused concerns over the security of the drug supply system in Taiwan. Experts said criminals have been attracted by the huge market and profit of the drug and trying to penetrate into the supply chain mainly through community pharmacies. Experts urged the government to review the drug supply system and guide community pharmacies towards regulated supply channels.
Gu Po-Jen, the President of the Taiwan Pharmacist Association, expressed that the high demand and the high reimbursement price of Crestor make it a target for criminals. Counterfeit drugs have less chance to penetrate into big hospitals, because big hospitals usually have supply contracts directly with drug companies. However, community pharmacies are more vulnerable to counterfeit drugs.
It is difficult for community pharmacies to source some uncommon drugs or have every drug in stock just to meet patients’ demand. However, pharmacists should be vigilant if the selling prices from vendors are too low.
Gu urged the MOHW and the TFDA to review the drug supply system and to make it easier for community pharmacies to order from regulated suppliers. Regional coordination is crucial in curbing counterfeit drugs, suggested Gu.
This incident of counterfeit drugs was discovered reported by a self-employed community pharmacist who should be applauded for vigilance as it is very difficult to identify counterfeits by their appearance.
Shen Tsai-Ying, the Spokesperson of the Taiwan Pharmacist Association, pointed out that hospitals’ pursuit of profits from drug price gap is one of the reasons behind the thriving of counterfeit drugs.
However, Shih Zhou-Rong, the Standing Director of the Taipei Medical Association, reckoned that the pharmacist associations should shoulder the responsibility and request their member pharmacists to observe self-discipline, rather than point the finger at hospitals’ pursuit of drug profits.
【2017-03-06/ United Daily News】