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According to the EU Falsified Medicines Directive, the European Medicines Verification System (EMVS) will be launched in February 2019. This system ensures a medicines’ authenticity in the European Union by an electronic end-to-end verification. Tightening security is necessary because falsified medicines threaten the reliability of Europe’s medicines supply chain. Recently, an accurately falsified antibiotic nearly fooled a German importer.
The importer purchased 7 boxes of the expensive antibiotic Zyvoxid. Second thoughts about the vendor made the importer check the contents only to find cheap OTC painkillers. The immediate threat to patient safety being averted left the high quality of the falsified packaging the principle concern. It is a tell-tale sign that more than just 7 boxes were produced and that continued vigilance is required.
Recognising falsified medicines by their looks or effects is a challenge. The EMVS will lift most of that burden. If anything doesn’t check out, a box is treated as suspect and will be put aside for further investigation. Nevertheless, the EMVS is but a step in the fight against falsified medicines. The next step must be about patients’ purchasing behaviour amidst the countless informal online markets.
No competing interests
21 September 2018
Bastiaan J. Venhuis
Senior Scientific Officer
Zuzana Skalska, Marcus Witstock
National Institute for Public Health and the Environment