Remarks by Ambassador Blake at the Public Service Announcement Competition on Counterfeit Medicine and Cosmetics at @america

Selamat siang and a warm welcome to Pak Roy from the Indonesian National Agency for Drug and Food Control, Ibu Widya from the Indonesian Anti-Counterfeiting Society, our friends in the government and the private sector, and students from local universities.

Here at @america, we love to help develop partnerships that advance our shared objectives. Today we have a very special event to help raise Indonesian consumers’ awareness about the dangers of counterfeit drugs. Indonesia, like America, is focusing more and more attention on widening access to safe, affordable health care for all who need it.

Access to safe, genuine medicine is an important part of that focus both to ensure public health issue, but also to protect intellectual property rights so the pharmaceutical companies who spend a lot to develop new drugs can also recoup their investments.

I am proud to say we work closely with the Indonesian government on both fronts. In public health, some estimates show as much as 30 % percent of pharmaceuticals distributed in Southeast Asia (including Indonesia) are either counterfeit or significantly substandard, and those fake and tainted products are responsible for countless medical problems and sometimes even deaths. In shops, in pharmacies, and online, consumers are faced with increasingly sophisticated counterfeit medicine suppliers who think nothing of selling what they know to be ineffective medicines to an unsuspecting public. Market studies have shown that among the most commonly counterfeited drugs in Indonesia are painkillers, anti-malarials, and diabetes medicine, among other drugs. Whatever the medicine, consumers need to know what they are taking. At best, fake medicine will do nothing to relieve a person’s condition – at worst, it could include ingredients that could harm or even kill someone.

That is why we are working with our Indonesian partners to ensure the quality of medicines sold in retail pharmacies and shops and to improve the quality, safety, and efficacy of essential medicines. With USAID support, U.S Pharmacopeia’s “Promoting Quality Medicine” program has partnered with BPOM to pilot “mini-labs” which can perform simple tests in the field to ensure the efficacy of TB and other drugs.

Another example is Pharmacheck, a potentially groundbreaking new tool to conduct inexpensive, advanced drug quality tests in the field. Pharmacheck has the potential to take the type of testing once only available in labs and make them possible in your local neighborhood pharmacy. Pharmacheck was developed at Boston University, and was named one of 2013’s “World Changing Ideas” by Scientific American magazine. Now, with a U.S. government research grant, Boston University and the University of Indonesia will field test Pharmacheck here in Indonesia.

Counterfeit medicines are also an Intellectual Property issue, as counterfeiters illegally ignore trademarked brands and patented products to manufacture and sell their own illegal goods. We are working closely with the Directorate General for Intellectual Property, Ministry of Trade, and others to create an IP action plan to guide our collaboration and cooperation on strengthening the legislative and regulatory framework, revitalizing enforcement, and enhancing public awareness through programs like this PSA contest. Robust IP protection and enforcement can be a catalyst for economic growth. A strong IP environment is vital to promoting innovation and creativity in Indonesia by securing the rights of innovators, including those who create new and effective medicines.

I know that the Indonesian government through our friends at the Directorate General for Intellectual Property, the Ministry of Health, B-POM, and others are working hard to increase public awareness of these issues in partnership with private sector stakeholders as well. There is much that we can do together, and we welcome the opportunity to collaborate.

Today, we are pleased to cooperate in a new and innovative way to. The United States is very pleased to be able to support MIAP’s (“mee-app”) Safe Medicines and Cosmetics Public Service Announcement contest to help raise Indonesian consumers’ awareness about the dangers of counterfeit drugs through a grant from the U.S. Government. This contest will enable young Indonesians to become innovators themselves and develop creative video production skills that they can put to use to create effective PSA messages. To help them, MIAP will conduct workshops in four cities as a part of this PSA contest. You will hear more about those workshops later in the program. Those messages are needed, because counterfeit medicine isn’t just a “cheaper option” for consumers. It is an illegal option, and can be a dangerous, even deadly option.

And so I am excited to see what kind of creative public service messages Indonesia’s young people will come up with, and proud that we can partner with MIAP and others to help raise public awareness about safe medicines and cosmetics among Indonesian consumers.
Thank you.