COVID-19 Press Releases & Op-Ed’s

TRACIT Issues Warning on Fake, Falsified and Substandard Healthcare Products and Medicines

Online fraudsters exploit COVID-19 fears

New York, 2 April 2020 – The Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT) issued a statement today, warning consumers about the risks and growing availability of fake, falsified and substandard medical and healthcare products and medicines. The organization, known for mitigating illicit trade across industry sectors worldwide, reports a surge in ineffective, fraudulent products that undermine public health and efforts to stem the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Emergency response measures to protect people from the COVID-19 virus must include the urgent need to protect them from fake, falsified and substandard medical products and medicines,” said TRACIT Director-General Jeffrey Hardy. “Someone wearing a falsified or substandard surgical face mask is not only at risk of exposure, but it creates a false sense of security that can actually accelerate the spread to others.”

Worldwide reports indicate a surge in the availability and type of fraudulent medical products intended to exploit the fears of consumers, which includes illicit offerings of falsified versions of treatments such as Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin that will harm or kill already vulnerable patients. Joint operations by the World Customs Organization, Europol and Interpol have resulted in a significant increase in seizures of counterfeit and unauthorized face masks and hand sanitizers.

“Expectations are that the availability of fakes and fraudulent products on the Internet will increase dramatically, especially with the closure of retail stores and the imposition of population distancing strategies,” said Mr. Hardy. “People must be especially careful with their social media, where outright fraud and advertising of fakes is already a major problem.”

In its statement, TRACIT’s product warning list includes fake, falsified and substandard medical products such as surgical masks, hydro-alcoholic gels, testing kits and thermometers. Also listed for increased vigilance are high demand healthcare and consumer products prone to counterfeiting, including cleaning solutions, toilet paper, anti-bacterial wipes, indoor sports equipment, refrigeration appliances, food products and reading materials.

TRACIT called for immediate action by governments, law enforcement, Internet platforms and brand owners:

  • Governments to prioritize the response to fraud among COVID-19 emergency measures, allocate resources to blocking distribution of fakes, warn consumers about the risks of fake and fraudulent products, especially online sales, and impose immediate sanctions on the manufacture and sale of fraudulent COVID-19 related products.
  • Law enforcement to clamp down on violators, increase vigilance for stolen, tampered and expired medical products and medicines, and establish a coordinated national strategy to share intelligence, best practices and cooperate on cross-border investigations.
  • Internet eCommerce platforms to amplify policing and takedown of online sales of counterfeit and fraudulent COVID-19 related products.
  • Brand owners to increase security of supply chains for genuine COVID-19 related medical products and medicines, share data with law enforcement where supply chains have been compromised and raise awareness about online shopping fraud.

In the longer run, TRACIT expressed concern that the COVID-19 Pandemic underscores the urgent need for a strong international policy framework to combat the illicit trade of fake, falsified and substandard medical products and medicines.

“Once we get past this crisis, we’ll need to double our efforts to prevent counterfeiting and falsification of medical products and medicines,” said Mr. Hardy. “This must start with stronger provisions for preventing the availability of illicit products online and stronger measures to keep illicit pharmaceuticals out of the physical supply chain, including postal and express carrier infrastructures.”

Collaboration

This effort was produced in collaboration with Elipe Global a leader in strategic government relations, corporate affairs and communications services (https://www.elipe-global.com/index.html), the US Council for International Business (USCIB) (https://www.uscib.org/anti-illicit-trade/), and the UK Anti-Counterfeiting Group (https://www.a-cg.org/).

About TRACIT

​The Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT) is an independent, private sector initiative to mitigate the economic and social damages of illicit trade by strengthening government enforcement mechanisms and mobilizing businesses across industry sectors most impacted by illicit trade.

Contact:

Cindy Braddon, Head of Communications and Public Policy, TRACIT

Tel: +1 571-365-6885 / cindy.braddon@TRACIT.org / http://www.tracit.org/ Twitter: @TRACIT_org

 

Business Must Come Together to Respond to COVID-19 Now

Op-Ed by Scott C. Ratzan MD, Executive Director of Business Partners for Sustainable Development

Earlier this month, nearly 500 experts in public health, law and human rights wrote an open letter to U.S Vice President Mike Pence to act swiftly, fairly and effectively, warning that “the COVID-19 outbreak is unprecedented in recent American history, and there is no playbook for an epidemiological event of this scope and magnitude.”

Yet, just weeks later, we all are living with unprecedented turmoil from this novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

While the virus was named a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) by the World Health Organization (WHO), this is the seventh time we have had such a proclamation in the last two decades. H1N1 influenza, polio, ebola in West Africa and in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zika, all abated and did not cause as much havoc. Financial markets are on a roller coaster, planes grounded and many of us sheltering in place or in a self-imposed or government-recommended quarantine.

The future of our public health and economy depend on how government officials, policymakers, leaders and our fellow citizens react.

This includes honest, coherent, transparent, and timely communication while providing adequate funding and support for the response. The health care system needs immediate resources for equitable and effective infection control and the means to effectively manage the disease.

As 24/7 news, interactive websites, social media and alerts fill our day, the virus continues to spread. Unfortunately, without a clear treatment or cure, fear and uncertainty results in a rich environment for misinformation and misguided actions.

COVID-19 is a test of our system’s ability to address a legitimate public health threat with an unknown trajectory. Multiple sectors must leverage knowledge, expertise, networks and resources to produce better public health outcomes. Being prepared with a plan and being proactive is the name of the game in prevention, mitigation and management of risk and the adverse consequences of any threat.

Business must play a critical role in planning, implementing and adapting to this crisis due to its wide reach, resources and impact on employees, partners and markets.

Communication from employers on coronavirus is the most credible source of information, according to a recent Edelman ten-country study (March 6-10). This is consistent with a 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer, which showed that “my employer” is the most trusted institution by 18 points over business in general and NGOs, and by 27 points over government and media.

Employers are central in communicating the response. The public needs the assurance that as more is learned, information will be shared accurately and clearly from sources they trust.

This emergent threat challenges our society to cooperate amongst all sectors, including government, media, technology platforms and the private sector.

We know that large scale communication campaigns that employ behavioral economics, health literacy and communication levers (mass and social media) can drive citizens toward healthier decisions. As COVID-19 continues to spread, the business sector’s historical hallmarks of innovation, efficiency and management can help address the challenge we face today.

There are some promising examples:

  • A COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator supported by Mastercard will join with the WHO, government and private sector funders and organizations to speed the response to the COVID-19 epidemic by identifying, assessing, developing and scaling-up treatments.
  • The USCIB is leveraging existing networks to catalyze partnerships to address challenges, such as COVID-19. This includes working with the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) to distribute WHO guidance on simple and low-cost measures for creating a healthier and more productive workplace.
  • The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and Business at OECD (BIAC) are also working on the design of an action plan to reach millions of businesses with recommendations to help governments deal with the threat to the global economy.
  • The Global NGO Business Fights Poverty is collaborating with Business Partners for Sustainable Development (BPSD) to develop an online “challenge” discussion on how business should tackle the coronavirus challenge.
  • NBCUniversal, Viacom/CBS, iHeartMedia, The Atlantic, Disney/ABC Television and the Ad Council will donate advertising inventory for campaigns that will advise consumers about social distancing, steps that can be taken to protect the public and more.

While the WHO was established to advance “informed opinion and active cooperation on the part of the public” we have now learned that health issues are not confined to one organization or sector.

Only by working together, with the public and private sectors, we can advance a society where our livelihoods are not threatened by similar future outbreaks and create a resilient society capable of responding to any future threat we may face.

Scott C. Ratzan MD is Executive Director of Business Partners for Sustainable Development. He is Former Senior Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government.

USCIB Calls for a Moonshot Mindset in the Business and Government Response to COVID-19 Virus

March 12, 2020, New York, New York — The U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB) and Business Partners for Sustainable Development (BPSD) today called for a cooperative, unified, business and government response to the global threat that is the COVID-19 Virus, on par with the challenges of the Space Race of the last century.

With a membership base of American companies operating globally and a longstanding role in representing business before the United Nations, and as the American affiliate of the leading international business organizations, USCIB and its partner organizations offer an extensive network to coordinate the private sector in its response to COVID-19.

“Grand challenges like COVID-19 require “moonshot thinking”, where governments around the world develop transformative and inclusive programs in consultation with the business community in a collaborative effort to stem the spread of the virus,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson. “Our networks can play a vital role in rapidly bringing together the considerable resources of the global business community.  History tells us that in times of crisis, business and government, working together, have the capacity to develop collaborative, innovative solutions that are not possible without such cooperation.”

Effective immediately, USCIB has taken steps to limit the spread of the virus by asking employees in New York and Washington, D.C. to work remotely until further notice. USCIB is utilizing teleconferencing tools to hold meetings virtually and limiting domestic and international travel in an effort to protect team members.

USCIB is working closely with public health expert Dr. Scott Ratzan, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Health Communications: International Perspectives, and executive director of Business Partners for Sustainable Development (BPSD).

BPSD is an international public-private partnership in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It provides a framework for government, business and civil society to share information, resources, activities and capabilities, and works in collaboration to achieve objectives together that the sectors cannot achieve independently.

“By working with the extensive networks of USCIB and its affiliated organizations, government can more rapidly mobilize the resources of the private sector and communicate in a more effective and timely manner,” said Dr. Ratzan. “This coordinated, multi-lateral response is essential to effectively responding to COVID-19.”

Recent initiatives of USCIB and its international affiliates that demonstrate how business and government can work together to develop response plans for COVID-19 include:

  • The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is working with the World Health Organization (WHO) on the design of an action plan to reach millions of businesses which are seeking support and guidance to ensure business continuity. ICC is taking an inventory of all tools and instruments that will be essential for businesses in facing the current exceptional circumstances.
  • The International Organization of Employers (IOE) is working with the International Labor Organization (ILO) to distribute WHO guidance on simple and low-cost measures that can help prevent the spread of the disease while creating a healthier and more productive workplace.
  • Business at OECD (BIAC) is working with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on recommendations to help governments deal with the threat to the global economy posed by the coronavirus crisis.
  • USCIB and Business Partners for Sustainable Development (a partnership initiative of The USCIB Foundation), is working with Business Fights Poverty to develop an online “challenge” discussion on how business should tackle the coronavirus challenge.

About USCIB: USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world, generating $5 trillion in annual revenues and employing over 11 million people worldwide. As the U.S. affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Organization of Employers (IOE), and Business at OECD (BIAC), USCIB helps to provide business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More information is available at www.uscib.org.

Contact:
Kira Yevtukhova, USCIB
+1 202.617.3160, kyevtukhova@uscib.org

Staff Contact:   Kira Yevtukhova

Acting Director of Communications
Tel: 202.617.3160

Kira Yevtukhova manages USCIB’s print and online publications, including the website, e-newsletter and quarterly magazine, and serves as the organization’s digital media strategist. Prior to this role, Kira worked for over five years within USCIB’s Policy Department, focusing on climate change, environment, nutrition, health, and chemicals related policy issues. She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and is currently pursuing an MBA at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business.
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