TEETHING PROBLEMS are to be expected with an online system linking more than 150,000 organisations in 28 countries to one giant data hub. That is what the European Medicines Verification System, which goes live on February 9th, will do with pharmacies, hospitals, drug firms and their distributors. From now on, each of the 18bn packs of prescription medicines sold in the EU each year must have a tamper-proof seal and a unique code, which pharmacists must scan in to verify it is not a fake. As the deadline approaches, the system’s glitches are becoming clearer; its benefits, less so.
According to the EU’s Falsified Medicines Directive, the goal is to protect consumers from the threat of falsified medicines in the legal supply chain. But that threat barely exists in Europe. When the directive was issued in 2011, just one in 20,000 medicine packs was reckoned to be fake. There are no data suggesting this has changed….