- Counterfeit medicines are medicines that are deliberately and fraudulently mislabelled with respect to identity and/or source.
- Use of counterfeit medicines can result in treatment failure or even death.
- Public confidence in health-delivery systems may be eroded following use and/or detection of counterfeit medicines.
- Both branded and generic products are subject to counterfeiting; they may include products with the correct ingredients or with the wrong ingredients, without active ingredients, with insufficient or too much active ingredient, or with fake packaging.
- All kinds of medicines have been counterfeited, including medicines for the treatment of life-threatening conditions, expensive lifestyle medicines, and inexpensive generic versions of simple painkillers and antihistamines.
Counterfeiting is greatest in those regions where medicines regulatory and enforcement systems are weakest. Thus in most industrialized countries with effective regulatory systems and market control (i.e. Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, most of the European Union and the USA), incidence of counterfeit medicines is extremely low – perhaps less than 1% of market value according to the estimates of the countries concerned. But in many African countries, and in parts of Asia and Latin America, a much higher percentage of the medicines on sale may be counterfeit. For many countries of the former Soviet Union, counterfeit medicines are estimated to exceed 20% of market value. But there is huge variation between geographic regions in terms of incidence. Variation can also be significant within countries: for example, between urban and rural areas, and between cities.
Medicines purchased over the Internet from illegal sites that conceal their physical address have been found to be counterfeit in over 50% of cases.
London, 19 November 2009: Research published today examining consumer opinions on counterfeit drugs reveals that five per cent of consumers across five European countries suspect they have received a counterfeit prescription drug and an alarming one per cent believe they definitely have. This means that as many as 12.8 million consumers could have been exposed to fake drugs in those markets.
And it would seem their concern is justified. In December 2008, it was revealed that 34 million counterfeit pills were seized, valued at 89million Euros, by European Union customs officials between October and December 2008....