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Pharmaceutical security conference aims to ensure strict safety standards for medications

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — When we pick up our medication at a local pharmacy, most of us probably assume we're getting what we pay for, at least in terms of quality. But there's increasing concern over what's called "false pharmaceuticals" and the impact they can have on your health. These are often medicines manufactured in foreign countries.

This week pharmaceutical representatives and regulators from the U.S. and around the world met here in Memphis to address those concerns.

"It will take a unified worldwide effort to really, really combat this. "

UTHSC Vice Chancellor Kennard Brown isn't talking about a dangerous virus, but it's a health risk nonetheless: counterfeit or false pharmaceuticals ending up in the hands of unsuspecting patients.

"It isn't just a Tennessee problem, it isn't just a U.S. problem, it's a global problem. And so we want pharmaceuticals to be tracked and traced from the point of manufacture to the point of distribution," said Brown.

Concerns over tampering with what's called the supply chain brought pharmaceutical manufacturers from 13 countries to UT's College of Pharmacy in Midtown Memphis. This international conference focused on strengthening laws and regulations and ensuring patients in hospitals, doctors' offices and retail pharmacies receive approved medications, manufactured according to strict safety standards.

Brian Johnson, the senior director of supply chain security at Pfizer, said that means standardizing policies and procedures through a worldwide unified voice.

"What kind of systems, processes, laws and regulations we can make sure that supply chain is secure? And nothing that's in the supply chain should go out...and nothing that's illicit should come in," Johnson said.

The conference also featured representatives of the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Public Health Service.