GS1 and Reducing Counterfeiting
Prof. Adheesh Budree, a member of the EFSA Board sits on the GS1 Southern Africa Council. The primary objective of GS1, which is run by the Consumer Goods Council of SA, is to provide barcodes (and QR Codes) to manufacturers and retailers. The organisation celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. It has engaged with ecommerce companies as well to ensure that goods which carry a barcode are not counterfeit. Amazon, Alibaba and Takealot all have agreements with GS1 on barcoding.
Counterfeiting creates real dangers for customers in some sectors – for example, research has shown that many developing countries have a high prevalence of substandard medicines. For instance, up to 88.4% of antimalarials in some African markets have been reported as being fake. Using ineffective medicines causes between 64,000 and 158,000 deaths from malaria every year in sub-Saharan Africa. Work is underway to strengthen governments’ surveillance of counterfeit medicine. For instance, in many African countries pharmacists are being trained to create awareness of such medicines and their possible infiltration into the medicine supply chain. This will make them better prepared to detect fake medicines and share information with their patients.
In addition to GS1’s work, governments are coordinating efforts to fight counterfeits. For example, in the East African region, the Anti-Counterfeit Authority of Kenya (ACA) and Uganda’s Anti-Counterfeit Network (ACN Africa) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The agreement signed on April 20, 2023, in Nairobi aims at strengthening strategic collaboration on the elimination of fake goods in East Africa.
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