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About counterfeiting

Counterfeit medicines, a growing worldwide criminal trend that endangers patients’ life.

 What is a counterfeit medicine?

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According to WHO (World Health Organization), a counterfeit medicine is one which is deliberately and fraudulently mislabeled with respect to identity and/or source. Counterfeit can apply to both branded and generic products and counterfeit products may include products with the correct ingredients or with the wrong ingredients, without active ingredients, with insufficient active ingredients or with fake packaging.

 What are the risks?

Without the control from health authorities to guaranty their quality and efficacy, Counterfeit medicines give rise to multiple risks:

  • they don’t ensure quality, security nor therapeutic efficacy
  • they can endanger patient’s health
  • they can produce harm and cost for caregivers, health system resources, and the health delivery
  • they can feed a parallel and freeloading economy, which is contrary to sustainable development and may present risks to safety, hygiene, environment, ethics, human rights, etc.
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In over 50% of cases, medicines purchased over the Internet from illegal sites that conceal their physical address have been found to be counterfeit. (WHO)

The internet is the biggest unregulated market in the world – and a place where you can easily become the victim of dishonest online pharmacies.
In industrialized and developing countries, the sale of pharmaceutical products online is a major source of falsified medicines that can endanger people’s health.
There are online pharmacies that are perfectly legal, having been created to simply ease the purchase of medicines, however, a large number of websites operate illegally, offering access to controlled medicines without a prescription, not to mention non-approved and counterfeit products.
Organized crime is behind some of these structures, which function as a network while hiding their true identity and location.

 How to limit the phenomenon?

  • Securing the supply chain, developing protection technologies on products packaging’s which is effective in that it becomes expensive and difficult to reproduce for counterfeiters.
  • Improving detection with the development of analytical methods with reliable techniques can provide insights into the phenomenon and drive appropriate enforcement actions
  • Increasing awareness is critical, Public, Health Care professionals, Governments are developing interest in fighting the problem and to perceive medicine counterfeiting as a real danger for health.
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  • Dedicated international cooperation is required to fight together against counterfeiting and other forms of transnational pharmaceutical illicit activities with national and international bodies
  • Reinforcing legislation, The MEDICRIME convention is designed to protect public health and seeks to criminalize and punish all acts related to counterfeiting medical products and similar crimes