In a 2004 Gallup survey on the honesty and ethical standards of various professions, nurses topped the list for the fifth year out of six. But public confidence in health care professionals and health systems is being eroded by counterfeit medicines. Patient health is being put at risk and we strongly believe that the time to act is now. Counterfeit medicines are unsafe and ineffective. They result in wasted resources spent on purchasing, inventory, transport and dispensing with little or no effect or even with disastrous patient outcomes such as poisoning, disability and death.
This year's IND theme of Nurses for Patient Safety: Targeting Counterfeit and Substandard Medicines is the launch and centrepiece of an ICN led multi-sector campaign including other health professions, patient groups, industry and regulators. The campaign aims to:
- Increase awareness of the existence and consequences of counterfeit medicines.
- Provide tools to identify counterfeit drugs and to report any suspicious medicines.
- Encourage nurses and other health professionals to lobby governments and regulatory authorities for attention to the existence and dangers of counterfeit and substandard medicines.
Nurses are on the frontlines of health, administering and often prescribing medicines, particularly in primary health care settings. We are well positioned to monitor drug effects and side effects and must be vigilant for signs of counterfeiting such as improper packaging and labelling. Nurses also have a key role in educating the public about the dangers of buying medicines through the Internet or on the streets from unauthorized sources.
Our patients have trust and confidence in us; it is our duty to uphold that trust. By targeting counterfeit medicines, nurses can help ensure the safety of patients and restore the public’s trust in health care systems.