Council of Europe Convention on the counterfeiting of medical products and similar crimes involving threats to public health [MEDICRIME Convention]

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Publication Date March 2018
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Background information:

The Council of Europe drafted a convention which constitutes, for the first time, a binding international instrument in the criminal law field on counterfeiting of medical products and similar crimes involving threats to public health (MEDICRIME Convention).

Counterfeiting of medical products and similar crimes violate the right to life as enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, as these criminal and dangerous conducts effectively deny patients the necessary medical treatment and may often be harmful to their health, sometimes even leading to the death of the patient or consumer.

In addition to the risk to the health of individuals, the confidence of the general public in health authorities and healthcare systems as such is in risk of being undermined by the circulation on the market of counterfeit and dangerous medical products. The reason for the strong growth of this type of crime is the relatively low risk of detection and prosecution compared with the potential high financial gains. Using the internet to advertise and supply their inherently dangerous products directly to patients and consumers around the world has proven to be a safe and easy modus operandi for the criminals involved and has given them a global reach.

The Council of Europe has long been concerned about the absence of harmonised international legislation, non-deterrent sanctions that were not proportionate to the harm caused to patients, and the involvement of criminal organisations, which operate across borders.

The drafting of an international legal instrument of the Council of Europe aimed at combating the counterfeiting of medical products and similar crimes involving threats to public health was identified as the most expedient approach. Safeguarding of public health through penal measures against criminal behaviors, protection of victims, promotion of cooperation at national and international levels, and preventive measures are the overarching aims of the above convention. To this end a Group of Specialists on Counterfeit Pharmaceutical Products (PC-S-CP) was set up by a decision of the Committee of Ministers.

Following the adoption of the draft Convention by the PC-S-CP, negotiations were launched in the ad hoc Committee on Counterfeiting of Medical products and Similar Crimes Involving Threats to Public Health (PC-ISP) with the participation of all member states and observers of the Council of Europe. The PC-ISP held two meetings in Strasbourg, on 2 to 5 June and 1 to 4 September 2009 respectively.

The substantive law that the MEDICRIME Convention contains: defines manufacturing of counterfeits; supplying, offering to supply or trafficking in counterfeits; falsification of documents and other crimes involving a general threat to public health.

Related Links
Council of Europe: Text of the MEDICRIME Convention
Council of Europe: Explanatory Report on the MEDICRIME Convention
MEDICRIME Convention Website

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