The verification system in Latvia to prevent falsified medicines reaching patients has been fully operational for two years – a total of 22 million packages of medicines in Latvia have been checked by the system and delivered to the patients within 2020, according to the Latvian Medicines Verification Organisation (LZVO) data.
The verification system aims to prevent falsified medicines entering the legal supply chain for most prescription medicines and some over-the-counter medicines (omeprazole). Exactly two years ago - on 9 February 2019, the system was simultaneously launched in more than 30 European countries. The core principle of the verification system is that each package of medicine is labelled with a unique identifier during the manufacturing process and this identifier is verified and decommissioned immediately before the medicine is sold in a pharmacy or used in a healthcare institution. Information contained in all unique identifiers are uploaded to the central European Medicines Verification System.
There are 1,261 users who are connected to Latvian Medicines Verification System (LZVS) – all public and hospital pharmacies, pharmaceutical wholesalers, and healthcare institutions, that have legal permission to purchase medicines (hospitals, outpatient clinics, doctor’s practices, dental clinics, and practices). Pharmacies and hospitals scan each medicine at the end of the supply chain to verify their authenticity and check them out from the system before dispensing them to patients. In case the system fails to recognise the unique identifier, an alert is generated and sent to the Health Inspection for investigation. So far, all alerts in Latvia have been of technical origin and not alerts due to falsified medicines.
“Medicines Verification System is a European mega project, which has been developed with the objective to protect patients from falsified medicines. The system has now been in operation for two years and, I believe, it is effective. We introduced the system without a transition period in Latvia. Some technical details were fine-tuned during operation, which has enabled us to get ahead of several European countries that are still in the transition period,” says Inese Erdmane, the Chairwoman of the Board of LZVO. “Meanwhile, we can confirm with confidence that only safe medicines are available to patients in the legal supply chain of medicines in Latvia.”
During the launch period of the system there was high number of false alerts caused by technical issues. However, in 2020 LZVS reached the situation, where in average one user (pharmacy or a healthcare institution) received only one alert per 20 days. The number of alerts is so low that it can be easily investigated by the Health Inspection, LZVO, end users and manufacturers.
Therefore, the LZVO invite all Latvian inhabitants to buy medicine in legal public and online pharmacies only, by avoid using unknown and unverified websites for the purchase of any medicine and food supplements, as well as avoid buying medicine from private or legal persons that advertise online in portals or social media.
The establishment of the medicines verification system is stipulated by the EU Falsified Medicinal Products Directive (2011/62/EU) and a delegated regulation stipulating detailed rules on the safety features of medicinal products for human use (EU 2016/161).
Chairwoman of the Board of LZVO