Since the beginning of the verification system, the authenticity of more than 300 million packages of medicine has been checked

In Latvia's legal medicines supply chain, through pharmacies and healthcare institutions, residents have received only safe prescription medicines and omeprazole which were verified in the medicines verification system. In the first quarter of 2023, slightly more than 27 million checked packages reached the population. Since the start of the system’s operation in 2019, more than 300 million packages of medicines were checked in the system, according to data collected by the Latvian Medicines Verification Organisation (LZVO). The LZVO in Latvia is responsible for the verification system where the safety and authenticity of prescription medicines are checked.

In Latvia, 1,208 users have connected to the verification system and checked the safety of medicines at the end of the first quarter of 2023 – pharmacies, hospital pharmacies, wholesalers and healthcare institutions that have permission to purchase medicines (hospitals, polyclinics, doctor's practices, dental clinics). Overall, the verification system is a European-level project that connects 2,800 pharmaceutical companies, 4,000 wholesalers, 110,000 pharmacies and 6,000 hospital pharmacies in 29 European countries online.

In the first quarter of 2023, 27 million transactions were carried out by the Latvian Medicines Verification System, which was slightly more than in the same period of 2022. Two types of transactions are possible in the system – verification of the medicinal product or decommissioning of the medicine package from the system, when the product reaches the patient.

"In February of this year, four years have passed since the medicines verification system has been operating in Latvia and Europe. During this period, more than 300 million packages of medicines have been checked in the Latvian Medicines Verification System, providing residents of Latvia with access to safe and verified prescription medicines and omeprazole. In these four years, thanks to the LZVO team, competent state authorities, manufacturers, system end users and IT solution providers, we have been able to create and maintain a system that meets not only the highest quality and safety standards, but also meets the goals set by the European Medicines Verification Organisation for the proportion of alerts from the total number of transactions – in Latvia, this indicator is much lower than what is stipulated in the recommendations," says Inese Erdmane, Chairwoman of the Board of the LZVO.

In case the system does not recognize the unique identifier during the verification, an alert is generated, recognizing a potential falsification. According to the information at the disposal of the LZVO, all alerts in Latvia so far have been of technical or procedural origin. If there are suspicions of potentially falsified medicines, these cases are investigated by the Health Inspectorate. In the first quarter of 2023, the proportion of the alerts affecting Latvian end-users was still low – only 0.01% on average – this is significantly less than the target set by the European Medicines Verification Organisation (0.05%).

The basic principle of the system is that manufacturers provide each package of medicine with a unique code or identifier, which is verified several times on the way to the consumer and finally decommissioned when handing over the medicine to be used by the patient in a pharmacy or healthcare institution. This procedure ensures that the same code can’t be used to bring falsified medicinal products into the legal supply chain.

The basis for the establishment of the medicines verification system is the EU Falsified Medicines Directive (2011/62/EU) and the Delegated Regulation which defines detailed rules for the safety features appearing on the packaging of medicinal products for human use (EU 2016/161). The system has been working in 29 European countries since 9 February 2019. All prescription medicines and one over-the-counter medicine – omeprazole – are checked by the system.