Basic WHO Training for Inspectors of Counterfeit Medicine

Eradicating counterfeit medicines in the list of issues faced by both developed and developing countries nowadays is the first priority of the World Health Organization (WHO). However, it seems that this is a very challenging task. It is even harder for those involved in the chase.

Member of The Peterson Group, a non-profit organization campaigning against the proliferation of fraud medicines revealed that to be able to join raids and operations, members have to undergo extreme training under the supervision of a WHO representative.

The detection and prosecution of fraudsters and criminals who market counterfeit medicines have several stages. First of all, the suspects’ product should be traced. The drug is then sampled according to the established procedure and should undergo defined physical or organoleptic examination by the drug inspector. If the result indicates that the drug formulation may be counterfeit products, then at least some chemical testing should be repeated to confirm the necessity of further analysis. Several other tests will then be conducted as well as compendia procedures.

Undergoing these complicated studies require utmost patience and practice as these critical steps are needed to provide reliable and validated information that can affect the outlook of a certain country. A single detailed misinformed would lead to numerous complaints and perhaps destruction of the organization which conducted the study.

World Health Organization has laid out their own protocols in training their own people when it comes to inspecting counterfeit medicines. Procedures differ in each country. WHO currently has research labs in Bangkok, Thailand, Jakarta, Indonesia and Tokyo, Japan in Asia which hold 3-month training programs for their employees. Each country should develop their own strategy, appropriate for the situation, the availability of the institutional framework and its professional and economic resources.

The training is aimed at inspectors, preferably those with experience in drug testing. The trainer, according to a review of the guidelines of WHO manual, should be experienced, have full knowledge and general and official inspection methods and should be able to conduct and design, when necessary, programs for the trainees. The training of inspectors of inspectors consists of conveying theoretical and background information by lectures and discussions of case studies. Furthermore, the training course should contain practical examples of the field of work. It will also cover the organoleptic inspection of products, including examination of products when available.