24 th. July 2019

Letter to The Foreign Minister of Denmark and the European Union

Subject: Urgent appeal to the European Union - Substandard and false medications in Iraq

My name is Bakhtyar Amin Baram. I am an orthopedic surgeon in Iraq but first and foremost a Danish citizen. I call upon the legal and ethic body of the EU to act on a matter paramount for the future of not only the European Union but also the Iraqi People. As a physician in Iraq since 2011 I have witnessed how fake and substandard medications have become an everyday occurrence and how figures within the government have capitalized on it. In 2017 I broke the silence in my hometown of Sulaimaniya. I called out those responsible for importing and distributing these hazardous products to pharmacists, hospitals and private practices and as a result I was attempted murdered twice before I managed to flee to Turkey and back to Denmark (see attached police report). Sadly I have once more been forced to flee Iraq. Upon my arrival in Denmark I realized just how organized and inhumane this industry is. Not only are people´s lives put a risk every single time they are ordained substandard medications, but those who dare to speak out against the industry risk their own lives. The false medications are predominately sold to poor people, an already weak and exploited part of society. This struggling group is already challenged by a poor hygienic environment and malnutrition, all of which add to their everyday health issues, but also increase their dependence of medications, which they cannot afford. In what may rightly be described as pure desperation they devastatingly spend what little money they have on false and substandard medications. According to the WHO, in 2018 7.3 million Iraqis were in need of basic healthcare. The ongoing internal fights in Iraq, most predominately the war against ISIS, have dramatically increased the number of people in need of urgent medical attention. Unfortunately money does buy you power and influence in Iraq. Hence the outcry for even basic adequate healthcare by those living in poverty will never be heard and subsequently they are forced to accept false and substandard medications. As a consequence the false medications might not work or in some cases even worsen people´s conditions, ultimately resulting in unrest and turmoil in the lowest part of society. They are put at the mercy of the criminal organizations profiting from false and substandard medications – organizations that act with absolutely no regard for human lives or the suffering of the poor and disadvantaged. The oppressed people of Iraq are suffering not only from being poor but also from a government making money of their hardships and struggles. Undoubtedly the country´s lack of proper healthcare and organized social support for those in need serves as a breeding ground for organized crime and terrorism. As no help or support has been offered by any international entities, including the EU, the Iraqi People are left with little or no choice. A lot of people will undoubtedly succumb to a life of crime, something which may become a huge threat to the European Union, as Iraq and in particular Iraqi Kurdistan serve as a bridge for drug trafficking from Afghanistan and human smuggling. We already know that a part of those imprisoned in Iraq based on the grounds of being ISIS soldiers had no sympathy with the terror organization, but only joined to escape poverty. The terror organization acted as a magnet for those seeking a way out of poverty and injustice. In Iraq, the EU is held in very high esteem as it is considered a guardian of human rights, a beacon of light for those who are oppressed and in need. Yet when the governments in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan (who are the real sources of the unrest, as they through political power, military power and corruption dictate everyday life in Iraq) assist these illegal businesses without the EU interfering, the image of the EU is severely damaged. It is paramount that the EU upholds is status as an organization that listens to those who dare to stand up and act when injustices are committed. Iraqis have always admired how the European Union have ensured the safety of its citizens and done everything to eradicate injustice, poverty, and suffering. As a Danish citizen and thereby a citizen in the European Union I must act when a threat to what we all hold dear is eminent. Furthermore EU based Pharmaceutical companies are deprived of millions of dollars each year due to false and substandard medications. All this capital ends up in corrupt hands in Iraq, creating an even stronger foundation for this growing industry of counterfeit medications. Those involved in smuggling and manufacturing substandard and fake medications are part of a vast organized crime network, involved in government bribes, and nepotism. A network that is free to expand and thrives under the current conditions with no federal or government intervention. Hence we are presented with a situation of utmost urgency, which demands the attention from EU. The medications are sold not only under a false pretense regarding the effect, but also under false pretense as being original trademark products: the substandard medications are sold as products by e.g Novo Nordisk, Lundbeck and GlaxoSmithKline. As a consequence these well-respected companies are having their reputations ruined not to mention the revenue they are losing. It does unfortunately seem clear to me that as long as we hesitate to tackle this paramount problem about false and substandard medications, the situation may yield further out of control and the European Union may subsequently experience a drastic increase in crimes directly related to the organized sale of substandard and false medications in Iraq.

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14. th. February 2019

Introducing IOEFM: The International Organization for the Eradication of Fake and substandard Medications

We are pleased to announce to the world the inauguration of IOEFM, The International Organization for the Eradication of Fake and substandard Medications. According to a recent report released by WHO in 2017 "1 in 10 medical products circulating in low- and middle-income countries is either substandard or falsified.” (WHO, 2017). This appalling fact obviously has many unfortunate consequences for the mainly poor/disadvantaged people in these countries. As we are currently not aware of any other organizations working actively to address this problem, we hope that by establishing this organization, IOEFM, we can take our part in doing so and thereby take part in the greater global struggle for better health care in our world. In IOEFM we see it as our long overdue duty to orient the broader public about the serious problems related to fake and substandard medications. Newly elected chairman of IOEFM, Dr. Bakhtyar Baram pronounces: “We cannot longer bear to remain silent about the sufferings of these poor people. Medications should alleviate the sufferings of the sick, not prolong or even worsen their base conditions. This ought to be very simple to understand. How can our patients keep trusting us as the alleviators of their sufferings when so often the medications we prescribe are useless at best?” By cooperating with relevant health authorities, medical corporations and any other organizations or persons who share our aims, IOEFM aims to be amongst the frontrunners for better health care in our world by the eradication of fake and substandard medications.

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