On February 14, 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a report summarizing data gathered by the WHO Global Surveillance and Monitoring System (GSMS) for substandard and falsified medicines, vaccines and in vitro diagnostic teams during its first four years of operations. The report examines the issue of substandard and falsified medical products, a problem that, per the report, seems to be growing as global supply chains become more complex and e-commerce spreads. This report, and the work done by the WHO GSMS, shows that international coordination and leadership can help support reduction of substandard and falsified medical products. The report provides stakeholders with a foundation on which to build and collaborate on strategies for radically reducing the incidence of substandard and falsified products, identify the vulnerabilities in supply chains, and facilitate a more efficient exchange of information between countries.
The report discusses the issue and provides analysis of the available data from GSMS. It also discusses the causes for substandard and falsified medical products (including affordability, availability, and overstretched regulatory frameworks) and solutions to address this global problem. The report discusses what needs to be done to prevent the manufacture, sale and consumption of substandard and falsified medical products; implement systems to detect any substandard or falsified products that are already in the supply chain; and respond quickly and proportionately to any incidents that are detected, in ways that safeguard patients and the supply chain, and take appropriate action against those responsible while not causing unnecessary shortages. This report has grown out of the work of the GSMS, which provides national regulatory authorities with an interconnected network. This allows them, for the first time, to cross-reference reports of suspect products with those reported from other regions by searching the WHO database and accessing photograph libraries of confirmed substandard and falsified products.