Protecting patients from falsified medicines has led to 15% increase in the number of verified packages

In the first quarter of 2021, in the medicines verification system, which guarantees the safety and authenticity of prescription medicines, 5.8 million packages of medicines were verified and have reached consumers, which is 15% more than in the corresponding period last year, according to the Latvian Medicines Verification Organisation (LZVO) data.

“The increase in the number of packages of medicines checked can be explained by two trends. Firstly, the consumption of medicines in Latvia is constantly increasing, and the verification system reflects this. Secondly, at the beginning of last year, the connection of system users and the start of medicines verification continued. This year, when the third full year of operation of the system has already begun, safety tests of medicines are performed by more users and on a continuous and regular basis,” explains Inese Erdmane, Chairwoman of the Board at LZVO.

In total, 18 million transactions were performed in the Latvian medicines verification system in the 1st quarter of 2021, i.e., an average of 1.5 million transactions per week. There are two types of transactions in the system – verification of medicines' packages (performed by manufacturers, wholesalers, as well as by pharmacies and medical institutions) and decommission of medicines' packages from the system (performed by pharmacies and medical institutions before selling or using the medicine to the patient).

At the end of the 1st quarter of 2021, 1227 end-users have connected to the Latvian medicines verification system and the safety of medicines has been checked by community and hospital pharmacies, pharmaceutical wholesalers and healthcare institutions (hospitals, polyclinics, doctors' practices, dental clinics and practices).

Therefore, LZVO urges all Latvians to buy medicines only in legal pharmacies and internet pharmacies, not to use unknown and unverified websites for the purchase of any medicines and food supplements, as well as not to buy medicines from natural or legal persons by advertisements on internet portals or social networking sites.

The verification system has been in operation in more than 30 European countries since 9 February 2019 and is designed to guarantee the safety of prescription medicines for patients. The basic principle of the system is that manufacturers provide each package of medicines with a unique code, which is verified several times on the way to the consumer and finally decommissioned when handing over or using the medicine to the patient in a pharmacy or medical institution. Information on all codes is stored in the European medicines verification system. In case the system does not recognize the unique code during the test, an alert is generated, which is received and investigated by the Health Inspectorate.

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).