Health minister seeks to combat counterfeit drug sales

The deputy premier and minister for health and social development, R Dancia Penn, has announced the government's intention to tackle the sale of counterfeit drugs.

At the January 24 2008 sitting of the First House of Assembly, Penn stated as follows:

"As part of our efforts to raise the standards of healthcare delivery, we have made provision for the post of director of pharmaceutical services in the 2008 budget. With the prevalence of counterfeit drugs on the market,[...] we do need to regulate the sector more effectively.

The holder of this post will develop policies and regulations, and make recommendations to the minister for health and social development for action to be taken to not only ensure that the drugs are satisfactory for human consumption, but also curtail the illegal sale and storage of pharmaceuticals. This person will also be responsible primarily for regulating businesses in the public and private sectors that offer drugs for sale, and to ensure that we conform to international standards."

Counterfeit goods deprive legitimate manufacturers of the net worth of their business product through sales and revenues; such goods also heighten risk for consumers due to inferior production, which may tarnish the brand and reduce customer loyalty. However, the British Virgin Islands provides no specific protection by way of monitoring and intercepting counterfeit goods.

Although the Customs Ordinance (Cap 104) allows for the prohibition of all goods of which the import or export is prohibited or made an offence by any other law, neither the ordinance nor the trademark legislation (the Registration of United Kingdom Trademarks Act (Cap 157) and the Trademarks Act (Cap 158)) makes it an offence to import or export counterfeit goods.

Jamal S Smith, Harneys, Tortola

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