Sir David Richmond: $30 Billion Global Threat Of Fake Medicine

Ira Pastor, ideaXme life sciences ambassador and founder of Bioquark, interviews Sir David Richmond, CEO of the Brazzaville Foundation.

Today we are going to start off with a bit of a crazy figure — the World Health Organization (WHO) currently estimates that 1-in-10 medicines in the developing world (over $30 billion worth) are either fake or substandard (defined as medical products that fail to meet either their quality standards or specifications, or both, or are deliberately/fraudulently misrepresenting their identity, composition or source) posing a substantial risk to public health.

These fake medicines effect every region of the world, and medicines from all major therapeutic categories have been reported to have been faked, including vaccines and diagnostics, thus harming patients and undermining confidence in medical products, healthcare professionals and health systems.

The Brazzaville Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization based in London with a goal to develop initiatives, primarily in Africa, in the fields of health, conflict prevention and resolution, development, the environment and conservation, and to bring countries together in peaceful cooperation.

The Brazzaville Foundation was founded by French businessman and diplomat Jean-Yves Ollivier, its main Patron is HRH Prince Michael of Kent, and the Foundation boasts a rather impressive roster of former presidents, diplomats, and ministers including those from Nigeria, South Africa, Guinea, Uganda, France, Finland, and East Timor, as well as Prince Philippe of Liechtenstein.

Since 2017, the Brazzaville Foundation has been involved in the fight against the traffic in substandard and falsified (SF) medicines through its LOMÉ INITIATIVE, a problem which has become particularly acute in Africa where in some countries it is estimated that up to 60% of medicines in circulation are believed to be substandard or falsified. Each year they are estimated to cost hundreds of thousands of African lives, including 120,000 children under the age of five who die as a result of fake anti-malarial medicines.

In addition to the human cost, the involvement of transnational organized crime and evidence that this is directly financing terrorism is creating a serious threat to public security in some parts of Africa. SF medicines are smuggled on to the market using the same routes and techniques as drug, weapon and human trafficking.

The Lomé Initiative has already been taken up by a number of African heads of state who are personally committed to confronting this scourge. They have agreed to introduce new legislation specifically targeted at criminalizing the traffic in falsified medicines, to impose severe penalties and to ensure effective enforcement as a first, vital step in a broader program to provide safe and effective medicines for all.

And just recently, on Jan. 18, 2020, seven African heads of state, global public health partners and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) including the presidents of Togo, Senegal, Uganda, and representatives of heads of states of Ghana, Congo, Niger and The Gambia, convened in Togo to all sign the political declaration and framework agreement to stem the fake medicine problem in Africa.

My guest today is Sir David Richmond, CEO of the Brazzaville Foundation.

Sir David Richard, CEO of the Brazzaville Foundation. Photo Credit: Brazzaville Foundation

Sir David is a former British diplomat with more than 30 years’ experience in international affairs. His postings included Baghdad, Sana’a, New York for the UN and Brussels, where he was the first UK Representative to the EU’s new Political and Security Committee, as well as senior positions in London. He was appointed the UK Special Representative for Iraq in 2004 and in his final post he was the Foreign Office Director General for Defense and Intelligence and a member of the Foreign Office Board.

He is Chairman of the British Lebanese Association and a former Governor of the Ditchley Foundation for transatlantic relations.

About his background as a diplomat and career in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). How the trade in SF medicines has become a $30 billion global problem, who the major “illicit actors” are and from what countries they operate. About the recent Lomé Initiative meeting in Togo and the signing of the declaration. About how the private sector (pharma companies) can contribute to dealing with this problem.

Ira Pastor, ideaXme life sciences ambassador and founder of Bioquark

Credits: Ira Pastor interview video, text, and audio.

Follow Ira Pastor on Twitter: @IraSamuelPastor

If you liked this interview, be sure to check out our interviews with the original Narcos, Javier Peña and Steve Murphy! and the Director of the Institute of Evolutionary Medicine, Professor Dr. Frank Rühli.

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ideaXme: Move the human story forward!™

For all those who love big ideas and great stories. #movethehumanstoryforward #science #futurism #quantumai #technology #spaceexploration #climatechange