Prevention of counterfeit drugs is imperative for citizens

Prishtina, February 23, 2023 – As we anticipate the completion of the legal framework that defines the rules for producing and pricing of pharmaceutical drugs, the American Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo organized a roundtable discussion regarding the prevention of counterfeit drugs and the importance of controlling and investigating them before they can enter the market.

AmCham’s Executive Director Arian Zeka, emphasized the importance of strengthening the control measures of imported drugs, especially when they come from unknown producers. According to him, these measures should also be regulated by appropriate legal provisions, which should facilitate the importation of drugs verified by safe suppliers. Zeka further said that the control of the sale of drugs that require a doctor’s prescription must be increased.

The Deputy Minister of Health, Arsim Berisha, stated that the institution he represents is in the final stages of completing the legal framework which will empower and improve the MoH activity in terms of drugs and patients’ welfare. Berisha also emphasized that this year, the budget allocated to health has increased significantly, and it will directly have a positive effect on public health.

Naim Bardiqi, Secretary General of the Ministry of Health highlighted the importance of the law on medicine pricing as he also shared with the participants some statistics on how much money out of the citizens income is spent on medicines within the year, further stressing that this law would really help the citizens. Bardiqi also said that the drug control mechanism in Kosovo has been strengthened.

Armend Zemaj, First Vice-Chairman of the Commission for Health and Social Welfare said that he hopes that this law will be voted as it will help the citizens, especially in the current economy. He also stated that work is being constantly done towards creating and enacting laws that positively affect public health.

Arianit Jakupi, Chairman of the Chamber of Pharmacists of Kosovo, also the moderator of this roundtable discussion, said that laws with a positive impact on health are imperative as he also added that the presence of counterfeit drugs in Kosovo’s market cannot be denied. He further emphasized that the relevant health institutions should deepen communication and cooperation with each other.

Dr. Pius Waldmeier, Head of Research & Development, Hoffman-La Roche, shared with the participants the concrete processes and activities they undertake to ensure the safety of new medicines and their safety for consumption. He particularly stated that the detection of falsified drugs on the market is vital and must be done before they reach patients. He also stressed the importance of being extra cautious while browsing online drug sales sites as they are not safe and can be very harmful.

Selvete Shuleta – Qehaja, Head of the Risk Management Planning Division in the Department of Pharmacovigilance elaborated on the activities this department is in charge of especially elaborating on the reports made by citizens about counterfeit drugs, as well as their impact on patients. She also raised the issue of information leaflets that describe the medicine which, according to her, when they are only available in a foreign language put patients at risk, as they often do not have the necessary information about the drug.

The lawyer from RPHS Law, Visar Ramaj, stated that the policies that should be considered to solve the problem of counterfeit drugs in Kosovo are the strengthening of vigilance that ensures the quality and reliability of drugs, and the regulation of the market price according to current standards of living. He also put emphasis on importing drugs from reliable manufacturers who meet the drug safety criteria.

Vesna Aleksovka from the International Gaucher Alliance shared with the participants the practices and policies of North Macedonia regarding the prevention of counterfeit drugs, patient welfare, and parallel trade in general. She emphasized that these drugs, in addition to the health damage they cause, also negatively affect patients trust in health institutions.