Com­bat­ing Coun­ter­feit­ing

Enterprise - - ECONOMY WATCH -

To bring into fo­cus the grave con­cerns about the men­ace of coun­ter­feit­ing, a sem­i­nar was held on “Com­bat­ing Coun­ter­feits” in Karachi on June 05. The pur­pose of the sem­i­nar was to in­vite at­ten­tion to the cur­rent sta­tus of coun­ter­feit­ing in Pak­istan and the steps needed to ad­dress the sit­u­a­tion.

The sem­i­nar was or­ga­nized by Helpline Trust, a not-for-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion, with the pri­mary pur­pose of con­sumer pro­tec­tion and pub­lic aware­ness. The event brought to­gether speak­ers rep­re­sent­ing the

food, bev­er­age and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals in­dus­tries, as well as govern­ment agen­cies such as the Fed­eral In­ves­ti­ga­tion Agency (FIA) and Pak­istan Stan­dards & Qual­ity Con­trol Au­thor­ity (PSQCSA).

Hamid Maker, Founder Trustee, Helpline Trust, said that coun­ter­feit prod­ucts are pro­duced with the pri­mary ob­jec­tive of cut­ting costs and max­i­miz­ing re­turns. The as­pects of qual­ity, safety and clean­li­ness are ig­nored and con­sumers are thus de­frauded. He fur­ther said that with the trend of coun­ter­feit­ing on the rise, Pak­istan’s im­age was be­ing tar­nished and had made the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity vary of in­vest­ments in Pak­istan. The dam­ages are fur­ther mag­ni­fied as the govern­ment loses bil­lions of ru­pees in tax rev­enue as the coun­ter­feit man­u­fac­tur­ers are not reg­is­tered as tax pay­ers.

Coun­ter­feit drugs are a global chal­lenge and the sever­ity can be gauged in light of the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) re­port that coun­ter­feit malaria and tu­ber­cu­lo­sis drugs alone re­sult in 700,000 deaths a year glob­ally. More­over, up to 10 per­cent of the world’s phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal trade (30% in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries) com­prises fake medicines. The global mar­ket for spu­ri­ous drugs is es­ti­mated to be val­ued at $431 bil­lion. Ac­cord­ing to the Fed­eral Drug Au­thor­ity (FDA) of the United States, up to 25 per­cent of all drugs con­sumed in poor coun­tries are la­beled coun­ter­feit or sub­stan­dard.

The sem­i­nar waa chaired by Jus­tice (R) Ma­jida Rizvi, who is also a trustee of the Helpline Trust and the Law Foun­da­tion. She reem­pha­sized the dam­ag­ing ef­fect of coun­ter­feit prod­ucts on Pak­istan’s im­age at the global level. She said coun­ter­feit­ing is a vi­o­la­tion of in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights and asked for strict con­sumer pro­tec­tion laws to com­bat coun­ter­feit­ing and pro­vide pro­tec­tion to in­dus­try as well as con­sumers.

The Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the Pharma Bureau, Aye­sha Tammy Haq stressed the need for deal­ing strictly with the is­sue of coun­ter­feit­ing. “The In­te­rior Min­istry had in­formed the National Assem­bly some­time back that 50% of all medicines in Pak­istan are ei­ther coun­ter­feit or sub­stan­dard,” she said. “Ac­cord­ing to the US Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion, in 2011-12 Pak­istan was the largest source of coun­ter­feit goods in the coun­try,” she added.

As­sis­tant Di­rec­tor of the FIA, An­war Qureshi, briefed the par­tic­i­pants on the steps the agency has taken against man­u­fac­tur­ers in­dulging in coun­ter­feit­ing. He con­ceded that the re­sources needed to com­bat coun­ter­feit­ing in the coun­try were limited and also pointed out the re­luc­tance of the man­u­fac­tur­ers and in­dus­try in fa­cil­i­tat­ing FIA crack­downs. He de­scribed the hard­ships and dif­fi­cul­ties the agency faces in car­ry­ing out in­spec­tions and in­quiries and pleaded for a much greater role of the FIA in mak­ing a dif­fer­ence.

Other speak­ers at the sem­i­nar said the racket of coun­ter­feit­ing in Pak­istan was flour­ish­ing as the laws were not strin­gent enough. Un­scrupu­lous in­di­vid­u­als find it a low-risk, high-re­turn means of in­vest­ment as they can get away with mal­prac­tices with­out much fear from the law en­force­ment agen­cies.

An ap­peal was made to the new govern­ment to treat the mat­ter on top pri­or­ity and take due ac­tions to stem the flow of coun­ter­feit prod­ucts in the mar­ket as the men­ace poses a risk to the con­sumers of Pak­istan and is also dam­ag­ing the im­age of the coun­try.

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