Media Statement

Fake Medicine is a Serious Problem

Fake Medicine is a Serious Problem

Kuala Lumpur, 13 February 2013 – The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) marks its third anniversary this month by launching the Emerging Markets Health Network (EMHN), which is a new policy centre that aims to help emerging markets address their health challenges by exploring the potential of markets and the private sector.

EMHN is an ambitious project that works with its network of scholars, think tanks and thought leaders to ensure the free market perspective is heard in health policy debates in Asia, Latin America and Africa. To achieve its aims, EMHN will coordinate the writing and dissemination of policy papers, monographs and opinion editorials; conduct public seminars and events; and provide commentary to the media on topical health policy issues.

EMHN is led by Philip Stevens, IDEAS’s Associate Director. Mr Stevens was formerly head of the health programme at International Policy Network, London. He is an expert on global health policy, and has written widely on AIDS, malaria, health systems, pharmaceutical innovation and counterfeit medicines. Philip has also held research positions at the Adam Smith Institute and Reform in London, and spent several years as a management consultant. He holds degrees from the London School of Economics and Durham University.

In conjunction with its launch today, EMHN also releases its first policy briefing paper that looks into the problem of fake medicines in Asia. Co-authored by Philip Stevens and Dr Helmy Haja Mydin, IDEAS Fellow, the paper explains that fake medicine is fast becoming a worrying problem in Asia, with up to 5% of medicines in Malaysia being fake. Although this is relatively low compared to our ASEAN neighbours, there are particular concerns about the quality and integrity of the many traditional medicines that are widely sold in the country because some have been found to actually contain poison.

Most academic and NGO commentators on the problem of fake medicines typically prescribe a mixture of stronger regulation, harsher criminal penalties, and an increase of enforcement activities against individual perpetrators. But the paper argues that in some countries the creation of new regulatory layers and tougher criminal sanctions
may be counterproductive, especially because new powers for regulators create opportunities for bribery and corruption. Therefore more effective solutions must address the fundamental causes behind fake drugs, which revolve around the inability of legitimate manufacturers to protect the integrity of their brands and weak protection of
intellectual property rights.

The full briefing paper can be viewed here. More information about EMHN can be found on and

For further information please email Mr Philip Stevens via or call Wan Saiful Wan Jan on +60 13 278 6334

2017-02-03T08:53:42+08:00 13th February 2013|Media Statements|Comments Off on Fake Medicine is a Serious Problem