A first of its kind Symposium on public health strategies for combating counterfeit drugs.

Symposium Executive Summary

Hosted by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Pfizer, this groundbreaking symposium united experts to tackle the urgent issue of counterfeit drugs.

In December 2023, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in
partnership with Pfizer Worldwide Medical & Safety and Pfizer Global Security, convened a first of its kind “Symposium on Public Health Strategies for Combating Counterfeit Drugs.” The event was hosted by the Behavioral and Educational Strategies for Avoiding Falsified Medicine Exposure (BESAFE) team at Johns Hopkins and brought together academia, public health researchers, drug manufacturers and suppliers, regulatory and law enforcement agencies, policymakers, and program implementers to discuss innovative solutions and
collaborative approaches to address the rising threat of counterfeit drugs.

Participants gathered with the goal of better understanding the impact of counterfeit drugs on public health, as well as identifying knowledge gaps and effective intervention strategies to prevent drug counterfeiting. The symposium findings will help inform regulators, policymakers, the pharmaceutical industry at large, and academia in developing more focused programs that address the root cause of drug counterfeiting.

“We recognize the gravity of the
challenge we face, a challenge
that extends beyond the
realms of healthcare, touching
the lives of millions and
threatening the very fabric of
public trust in pharmaceuticals.”
Saifuddin Ahmed
MBBS, PhD, Professor at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and Principal investigator at BESAFE

Counterfeits By The Numbers

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Observation by Symposium Particpants
Participating Organizations
  • Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health Pfizer, Inc.
  • American Pharmacists Association (APHA)
  • APCO Worldwide
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Butler University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
  • GS1
  • International Federation of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers (IFPW)
  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP)
  • Partnership for Safe Medicines
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Trade (CBP)
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • World Customs Organization (WCO)
  • World Health Organization (WHO)

Key Take Aways

  • It is crucial to leverage available resources from global organizations, governments, drug manufacturers and suppliers, professional organizations, and academic institutions.
  • There are opportunities for collaboration on interventions to (1) increase the public’s awareness, and (2) educate consumers on how to verify the authenticity of purchased medicines. Both efforts should be complemented with programs to strengthen the capacity and skills of regulatory bodies and healthcare professionals to recognize, assess, and respond to the threat of counterfeits.
  • More technology-based solutions are needed to develop robust monitoring and surveillance platforms. There is an urgent need to capture consumer behaviors, counterfeiting patterns, and trends through consumer and healthcare personnel surveys and machine learning applications.
“We must come together as a community to support, educate and protect patients and providers from the devastating life-changing impact of counterfeit medicines.”
Dr. Aida Habtezion, Chief Medical Officer and Head of Worldwide Medical & Safety, Pfizer
“Combating counterfeit drugs will not be successful in
isolation. There is a need to further strengthen
cooperation between all actors in this area.”
Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, Former Secretary General, World Customs Organization

Download Full Symposium Report on Public Health Strategies for Combating Counterfeit Drugs.