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Shanghai, Pfizer Ink MOU to Battle Fake Drugs

The municipal government and private industry are working together in Shanghai, China's financial core, to take on the producers of counterfeit drugs and better protect intellectual property rights.

In a first for the country, the Shanghai Municipal Food and Drug Administration (SMFDA) reached a memorandum of understanding (MOU) yesterday with US-based Pfizer Inc., the world's biggest pharmaceutical company, in a bid to detect and deter the production of imitation drugs in Shanghai and its surrounding areas.

"Our top task is to ensure that the public receives safe pharmaceuticals, but the SMFDA is still technically weak in clamping down on counterfeit drugs, such as in the area of chemical analysis," said administration Director Wang Longxing. "The partnership with Pfizer is a strategic alliance because the company has abundant international experience and advanced anti-counterfeiting techniques."

Wang said the crackdown on fakes also expressed the Shanghai municipal government's commitment to creating a better environment for foreign investors by cutting out IPR violations.

Pfizer has found counterfeits of its drugs being sold in 57 countries.

Pfizer offers more than 40 innovative drugs on the Chinese mainland and it plans to introduce another dozen within five years.

R. John Theriault, vice president of global security for Pfizer, said fighting fakes is a long-term task. "It's the first time that we've cooperated with a government agency," he said.

Theriault said the most challenging factor in China was to ensure the enforcement of anti-counterfeiting regulations from the central government down.

According to the MOU, the two parties will share information concerning imitation Pfizer products in other countries and China.

Meanwhile, Pfizer will provide more technical support and help train SMFDA investigators and executives to enhance their detection abilities.

The counterfeit drug problem is worsening around the world. According to a World Health Organization report issued in November, an estimated 25 percent of medicines consumed in developing nations are fake or substandard.

China set up a nationwide system in August to communicate regularly with foreign invested companies and obtain their advice on fighting counterfeiters.

(China Daily May 18, 2004)

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