The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (Ipophl) has partnered with the Pharmaceutical Security Institute (PSI) to combat the increase of counterfeit medicines and pharmaceutical products in the market.

In a statement on Monday, Ipophl said it signed an agreement with PSI last November 18. "This synergy with PSI will help us better protect the value of IP that is meant for our country's economic gain and, of course, protect our consumers, especially where fake products involved can harm health and cost a life," Ipophl Director General Rowel Barba said. The agreement will the provide the framework for the capacity building, awareness and exchange of information relevant to curb the sale, supply and consumption of counterfeit medicines and pharmaceutical products.

The partnership aims to address the challenge of delivering safe medicines and ensuring integrity across the pharmaceutical supply chain.

PSI President and Chief Executive Officer Todd Ratcliffe expressed appreciation for Ipophl's efforts in creating the new partnership, emphasizing the urgent need for international-scale collaborations. Ratcliffe warned that counterfeiting has been seeing "a drastic shift" in the past six years from lifestyle drugs, like weight loss steroids, to life saving drugs, such as cancer medications, where more profit can be made.

"We encourage our members to call us at the very beginning of a case to see if we know something [and] 50 percent of the time, we have a positive fit on our database," Ratcliffe said. He noted that all PSI members are required to share information to cooperate with law enforcement regulators and help protect public health.

The PSI is a non-profit, membership organization dedicated to sharing information on the counterfeiting of pharmaceuticals and initiating enforcement actions through the appropriate authorities.

With 37 pharmaceutical manufacturer-members from various countries, the Virginia-based PSI runs representative offices in Florida, Singapore and Stockholm.

In May 2021 alone, the International Criminal Police Organization seized $23 million worth of counterfeit and illicit medicines and medical products, with unauthorized Covid-19 testing kits accounting for more than the half.