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Legislation: Security officers raided a factory producing counterfeited drugs

Egypt - 28 December 2017


A factory that manufactured faked medicines, syringes and glucose bottles, causing harm to their users, was raided by Egyptian security forces in Alexandria. Major Mustafa Al-Nimr, Head of the Security in Alexandria, arrested the factory’s manager following a raid that led to the discovery of several machines and other ingredients used in the manufacture of fake drugs. Among the drugs, the investigators identified several fake medicines meant for paediatric use.

Enforcement: Dangerous eye drops removed from the market in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan - 13 December 2017

The Analytical Expertise Centre of the Ministry of Health of Azerbaijan identified dangerous falsified eye drops under the name “Oksiam-B”, forbade their prescription, and ordered their removal from the national market. The active substance – siticoline – is completely absent, and the counterfeited drug is not sterile nor safe to be used. These eye drops are officially manufactured by the Turkish company Universe Pharma Ilac and distributed by the company OOO Dihac, which has never registered any permission to export this medicine to Azerbaijan. Further chemical and microbiological examinations are underway.

Legislation: The Peru doubles down on anti-counterfeiting

Peru - 05 December 2017

The Ministry of Health is increasing financial support to anti-counterfeiting efforts by 116% (PEN 1.9 billon or EUR). Directorate General of Drug Supplies and Drugs (Dirección General de Medicamentos, Insumos y Drogasn, Digemid) general director Henry Rebaza says that roughly 10 tons of [fake] pharmaceutical products, including drugs, mostly antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs. Based on a 2016 study by the National Health Institute (Institutio Nacional de Salud), only one in three drugs contain an active ingredient. Counterfeiters favor tablets, injectables, pills, and syrups.

Communication / Conference: Fake drugs are leading to tens of thousands of deaths, WHO says

International - 28 November 2017

Reuters & WHO

"One in ten drugs sold in developing countries would be fake or substandard, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths. Many African children are receiving ineffective treatments for pneumonia and malaria" reports Reuters from the World Health Organization (WHO) in late November. An alarming report for global public health.

WHO has received 1,500 reports of fake and low-quality products since 2013, with antimalarials and antibiotics being the most frequently reported categories. However, the problem extends to all treatments, from cancer drugs to contraceptive pills.

Internet: Europol and IOS shut down 20,520 websites that sold counterfeits

Europe - 27 November 2017

'In Our Sites' (IOS), a joint operation by Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition, the US National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, law enforcement agencies from 27 EU Member States and third parties facilitated by INTERPOL have seized 20,520 domain names that engaged in the sale of counterfeit goods, including pharmaceuticals.

Enforcement: Crack down of a 150-people fake drugs ring in China

China - 22 November 2017

In November 2017, Donghai county police dismantled a large ring of falsified micro-surgery and beauty products manufacturers, active in more than 31 provinces and selling more than 28 kind of counterfeited drugs, including Botox. This ring was selling its products through more than 100 online micro-shop opened on social media, and involved more than 150 people, including Chinese students living in France, South Korea and Japan that illegally brought products to China. Most of the 35 person arrested were less than 30 years old.

Enforcement: Police nail 13 tons of fake drugs in Niger

Niger - 21 November 2017 &

Niger authorities apprehended a shipment of thirteen tons of counterfeit medicines from India to Niamey via a port in Ghana. A police spokeswoman said the traffickers received help from an official within a company licensed to distribute pharmaceutical products. Some of these medicines are analgesics and anti-inflammatories. The name of the manufacturer does not appear on the packaging. We can even read the mention "Leave in reach of children" in one packaging. Attorney General Chaibou Samna expressed worry about fake drugs reaching Niger.

Legislation: State Duma Health Committee in favour of Medicrime Convention

Russia - 17 November 2017

The Health Committee of the Russian State Duma approved the project of ratification of the MediCrime Convention and similar crimes involving threats to public health. The bill had been presented to the Russian President Vladimir Putin for submission to the lower house last October, and is currently under discussion in the Parliament. The Federal Minister of Health Veronika Skvortsova explained the project in front of deputies on December 15.

Technology: German researchers invent anti-counterfeiting 3D microstructures

Germany - 15 November 2017

Optics company Zeiss, in partnership with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, published a paper detailing a technique called multistep 3D optical laser lithography. This is a step up from 2D security features such as holograms. The 3D microstructures are 100 μm long and require a special microscope to detect, making it difficult for forgers to copy. Creators say this technology could be embedded in foil to serve as security tags for pharmaceuticals, among other applications.

Des chercheurs allemands mettent au point des microstructures anti-contrefaçon en 3D

Legislation: Federal medicine labelling system expected in Russia by 2019

Russia - 13 November 2017

A new labelling system, expected to resolve the problem of falsified medicines, should be implemented by 2019, revealed Mikhail Murashko, Head of Roszdravnadzor, the federal surveillance body. A testing phase started in six regions of the Russian Federation on February 1st, involving manufacturers, wholesale traders, and pharmacies. It will end on December 31st, 2017. According to Mikhail Murahshsko, although the number of counterfeit drugs sold in Russian pharmacies would have decreased by half since 2013, most of the medicines sold online would be falsified. Sergey Shulyak, General Director of DSM Group, a Russian company monitoring the Pharmaceutical sector in Russia and CIS Countries, delivered a different message, saying that the risk is the same both in usual pharmacies and online stores.

Communication / Conference: Fighting counterfeit drugs on the sidelines of the G7 summit

Italy - 05 November 2017

On November 2017 in Milan, the Italian Ministry of Health and the Carabinieri organized a high-level side event entitled “Strategies to fight pharmaceutical crime”. The goal of this conference was to expand the horizons of participants in fighting pharmaceutical crime. Participants learned about the Council of Europe’s Medicrime convention, reviewed the framework of pharmaceutical crime, and got the opportunity to network, an essential task when fighting cross-border crime.

Communication / Conference: Death penalty for producers of fake drugs

Iran - 02 November 2017

Afkar News

The Director of Investigation for Complaints and Legal Affairs of the Iranian Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reaffirmed that the sentence for producing fake drugs leading to the death of their consumers – deliberately or inadvertently – was death penalty. According to Shahriar Eslami Tabar, 700 victims of drug poisoning die each year in Iran, due to falsified medicines or to misuse of drugs.

Legislation: New definition of counterfeit drugs given by the Chinese FDA

China - 24 October 2017

The CFDA bureau published a new definition of counterfeited drugs. According to this new standard, the drug is considered as counterfeited if:

1) The drug’s component does not match the national standards;

2) The medicines are mislabelled;

3) The drug is made with a material prohibited by the drug regulatory department of the State Council;

4) The drug did not receive approval licence, or the imported drug was not tested;

5) The drug is banned by the State Council;

6) The medicine is deteriorated;

7) The drug is contaminated;

8) The drug uses API that are not approved by the Drug Administration;

9) The medicine’s indications or effects are note in the range of the relevant regulation.

Communication / Conference: Falsified drugs would represent 15% of the medicine sold in Egypt

Egypt - 24 October 2017

Since Egypt has allowed the Egyptian pound to float freely, goods’ prices, and especially drugs have soared in the country. As a result, for the same product, the price can rise three times from one pharmacy to another. Against this background, fake drugs market has soared in Egypt, raising concerns within the Ministry of Health. The Pharma Department of the Egyptian Chamber of Commerce estimates that the value of counterfeited medicines’ market in Egypt amounts to EGP 10 billion (or up to USD 566 million) and approximately 15% of the drugs in circulation would be counterfeited. The Industry Federation urges pharmacists to introduce a barcode system that would contribute to decrease effectively the number of fraudulent medicines.

Communication / Conference: Call for the tightening of national anti-counterfeited drug legislation in Iran

Iran - 15 October 2017

Bashir Khaleghi, Iranian parliamentary at the Majles and member of the Health Commission stated that the current sanctions related to counterfeiting and smuggling offenses are inadequate and insufficient. He emphasized on the fact the virtual (internet) market for medicines has soared in Iran, and that the drugs sold online are widely deemed to be counterfeited and smuggled into the country through illegal channels. He has called the judicial system of the country to review and amended the existing laws in order to strengthen their deterring power.

Enforcement: In Ivory Coast, the government is determined to stop counterfeiting

Abidjan - 14 October 2017 & Agence ivoirienne de presse

On October 12, 2017, 37 tons of outdated and prohibited products worth more than 50 million FCFA, or nearly USD90,000, were destroyed in the suburbs of Abidjan. The Ivorian government has set the goal of protecting the health of Ivorians and fighting fraud.

In the first three quarters of 2017, a total of 245 tons of unauthorized goods worth 275 million CFA francs (or nearly US$500,000) was seized and destroyed in the country; while in 2016, it was a total value of about 2 billion CFA Francs that was seized, or more than US$3.5 million.

Concerning falsified medicines, a seizure and destruction operation of prohibited medicines and stalls took place on 6 October in the market of the Adjamé forum, on the initiative of the Inter-Ministerial Committee against Illicit Trafficking and drug counterfeiting (COTRAMED).

Legislation: Russia joins the MEDICRIME Convention on counterfeiting of medicines

Russia - 14 October 2017

A bill on ratification of the first international treaty against counterfeit medical products and similar crimes involving threats to public health, the Medicrime Convention of the Council of Europe, has been presented to the Russian President Vladimir Putin for submission to the State Duma. The Convention has been signed in Russia on October 28, 2011. Moreover, Roszdravnadzor announced that the amount of falsified drugs have decreased by half over that period. About 600 series of medicines have been seized and destroyed in Russia over the period January-September. Series can cover 10 thousand to 80 thousand packages. Russian experts reported that the most falsified medicines were antibiotics, painkillers and drugs for gastrointestinal problems. The current criminal liability in Russia for counterfeiting medicines and selling them is up to 12 years of imprisonment and a fine up to RUB 5 million (or USD 86,010).

Communication / Conference: US FDA warns against buying pet medicine online

United States - 12 October 2017

The FDA urges consumers to exercise caution when ordering pet medicine online. It says a major red flag to look out for is online pharmacies that do not require a prescription before filling an order for prescription drugs. Two prescription drugs are of special concern: heartworm preventives (Heartgard, Trifexis, Interceptor) and NonSteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) (Rimadyl, Metacam).

Communication / Conference: WHO denounces the connection between falsified medicines and antimicrobial resistance

Switzerland - 05 October 2017

On the margin of the 72th United Nations General Assembly1, Dr. Hajime Inoue, Senior Advisor to the Director-General and Special Representative for Antimicrobial Resistance at the WHO, gave an update on global efforts against substandard and falsified medicines in the context of the fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR). More than 130 member States have completed a national action plan on AMR or in the process, covering more than 90 percent of the global population.

Since WHO launched its global surveillance and monitoring system for substandard or falsified medicines in 2012, they have gathered more than 1,500 reports of such medicine from more than 100 countries. Based on data from the first 4 years of the database, about 40 % of all reports came from antimicrobials, either anti-malarial medicine or antibiotics.

Quality of medicine relates to all five objectives of the global action plan, he said: awareness, surveillance, reducing infections, appropriate use of antimicrobials, and research and development or investment, Inoue said.

WHO denounces the connection between falsified medicines and antimicrobial resistance
Credit: United Nations

1The General Assembly is one of the six main organs of the United Nations, the only one in which all Member States have equal representation

Communication / Conference: Experts' opinions on fake medicines in Ukraine

Ukraine - 05 October 2017

The pharmaceutical corporation Arterium told that falsification represents a real problem for the pharmaceutical market in Ukraine, but that its scale remains difficult to assess due to lack of open information from the Ukrainian State Service for Drugs Control. The company claims that the fight against falsified medicines has become less effective over the past three years, since the Ukrainian Government adopted a moratorium of official checking procedures. Moreover, additional public funds could enhance the effectiveness of the control system.

Communication / Conference: Sanofi rolls out fake drugs awareness campaign in Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast - 03 October 2017

On September 26, 2017, Sanofi has launched a major campaign against the sale of fake medicines in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. The campaign was set off from Inch'Allah de Koumassi square, in a popular district of Abidjan. Under the banner "Street medicines kill, don't trust them!", an information caravan started its four-day course across 10 districts to spread awareness about the dangers of counterfeit medications. In Ivory Coast, an estimated 30 to 40% of drugs are bought off the streets.

Communication / Conference: Counterfeit Fentanyl has invaded the United States these two last years causing multiple fatalities

France - 02 October 2017

Source: Partnership for Safe Medicines

In a report issued by The Partnership for Safe Medicines in September 2017, we can see the terrible scourge of counterfeit medicines containing the deadly ingredient fentanyl, most often illegally imported, that have impacted 40 States in the past two years. These drugs are tied to deaths in more than a dozen states.

Counterfeit pills made with fentanyl are made into fake opioids, like OxyContin, but they are also now made into fake Xanax and non-opioid pill shapes.

"There is a global counterfeit drug crisis, and this is a lucrative business for counterfeiters who are buying cheap, illegal fentanyl from Chinese suppliers and shipping it into the U.S., often via the mail," said Dr. Marvin Shepherd, chairman of the PSM Board and former director of the Center for Pharmacoeconomic Studies at the University of Texas at Austin’s College of Pharmacy.

Report: Counterfeit Medications Containing Deadly Fentanyl Have Been Found in 40 States, issue September 25, 2017.

Counterfeit Fentanyl has invaded the United States these two last years causing multiple fatalities
Photo : The Partnership for SafeMedicines

Enforcement: 12 indicted for selling reagents as cure for Chikungunya in El Salvador

El Salvador - 02 October 2017

After a three-year investigation, the legal representatives and employees of the Dario pharmacy and biomedical clinic Zelaya stand accused of marketing chemical compounds – MM16+Si+V and sodium ascorbate, generally used to calibrate equipment – as cures for Chikungunya. Authorities acted after an ad for a cure against Chikungunya was published in a local newspaper.

Internet: In France, 1.4 metric tons of health products were seized during Operation PANGEA X

France - 26 September 2017

Sources: Interpol et ANSM (in French)

The Operation Pangea is the biggest law enforcement operation on the Internet. In 2017 and for the 10th edition, 433,000 illicit health products and 1.4 metric tons of bulk health products were seized by customs during the operation. Most of these products were drugs without French market authorization, drugs turned from their legitimate purpose and sold for their narcotic or sports doping effects (steroids, growth hormones, etc.) or creams meant to whiten skin. A number of bulk active pharmaceutical ingredients were also discovered. More than 70% of the seized products came from Asia (primarily India and Singapore).

A total of 185 illegal websites of illicit drugs have been identified during this operation.

Over its ten-year history, Operation Pangea has seized more than 85 million illegal products and closed more than 67,000 illicit online pharmacies.

Enforcement: Irish authorities seize EUR 850,000 worth of fake drugs

Ireland - 25 September 2017

Ireland’s Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) and customs officials seized some 200,000 units of counterfeit prescription medicine, for an estimated EUR 850,000 (or USD 989,678) worth. Most commonly hauled were sedatives, followed by anabolic steroids, erectile dysfunction drugs, as well as antibiotics, painkillers, slimming pills, insulin injectables and cancer meds. These mainly came from India, China, Latvia, UK, Moldova, Cameroon, Pakistan, and the U.S.

Internet: Operation PANGEA X closes 3,584 illicit websites and seizes 25 million potentially dangerous medications

France - 25 September 2017

Sources: Interpol et ANSM (in French)

The Operation Pangea – coordinated by Interpol - is the largest annual repression program targeting the illegitimate sale of medicines on the Internet. The tenth edition of Operation Pangea, held from 12 to 19 September 2017, benefited from the participation of close to 200 law enforcement agencies, customs services, drug regulatory bodies, and private companies—including Sanofi—from 123 countries. The world over, Pangea X resulted in the arrest of 400 people and the record seizure of 25 million potentially dangerous medicines valued at more than US$51 million. Among the seized products were food supplements, painkillers, epilepsy medications and erectile dysfunction treatments.

Moreover, this year's operation discovered counterfeited medical devices such as dentistry materials or preservatives, and, importantly, counterfeited opioids, fentanyl in particular. Fentanyl is a powerful narcotic and counterfeits of it have been implicated in thousands of cases of overdose and death worldwide over the last few years.

In all, 1,058 investigations were carried out for Pangea X and 3,584 websites closed. Also, more than 3,000 advertisements for illicit pharmaceuticals were removed from the Internet.

Operation PANGEA X closes 3,584 illicit websites and seizes 25 million potentially dangerous medications
Photo : ©Interpol

Enforcement: Belgian customs intercept 300 packages

Belgium - 25 September 2017

From September 8 to 14, as part of the operation Pangea X coordinated by Interpol, Belgian customs and federal police opened 8,547 packages in the postal services of the Zaventem and Bierset airports. They blocked 336 packages suspected to contain fake medical products, eventually seizing 136 of them. This year, authorities focused on fake medical devices (especially condoms and dentistry apparatus) as well as on opioid drugs. Intercepted packages were commonly found to contain erectile dysfunction medication, painkillers, slimming medication, and psychoactive substances.

Enforcement: Death of 16 infants linked to fake drugs

Colombia - 23 September 2017

16 children have died while in the care of the Laura Daniela Clinic in Valledupar, Cesar Department, sparking outrage in the community. Evidence points to the use of falsified Survanta, a pulmonary surfactant. A call for further sanitary inspections and tighter regulations was launched.

Communication / Conference: According to Ivorian top health official, 30% of drugs are bogus

Ivory Coast - 23 September 2017

According to Charles Boguifo, president of the National Council of Pharmacists, 30% of drugs on the Ivory Coast market would be counterfeit – antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-tuberculosis – amounting to an XOF 50 to 80 billion (or USD 88 to 142 million) to loss for the pharma industry. In this worrying new trend, a host of illegal labs have popped up, especially in the Cocody area. Authorities are contemplating universal coverage as a way to combat fake drugs trafficking.

Legislation: MEDICRIME Convention ratified by Turkey

Europe - 21 September 2017

On 21 September 2017, Turkey became the eleventh State to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on the counterfeiting of medical products and similar crimes involving threats to public health, also known as the MEDICRIME Convention. The Convention will come into force in Turkey on 1 January 2018.

The MEDICRIME Convention is the first international treaty against the falsification of medical products and similar crimes. It offers a legal framework for worldwide cooperation in prosecuting pharmaceutical crimes posing a global threat to public health. Opened for signature and ratification since October 2011 to all the countries of the world, 27 Member States and non-Members have signed the MEDICRIME Convention, and 11 countries have ratified it.

MEDICRIME Convention ratified by Turkey

Communication / Conference: Cooperation between Armenia and Western pharma companies

Armenia - 13 September 2017

In order to enhance the security of medicines, the Armenian Ministry of Health signed last September a memorandum of cooperation with 15 Western pharmaceutical companies’ representatives in charge of their structures’ regional security. The goal of this cooperation will be to prevent and fight against the falsification of drugs. Among the companies mentioned in the press release of Armenpress as having signed the afore-mentioned memorandum stand Sanofi and Pfizer.

Enforcement: Hong Kong police dismantle counterfeit medicine ring

Hong Kong - 07 September 2017

On September 5 and 6, Hong Kong Customs cracked down on a counterfeit medicine ring, in an operation that led to 14 arrests. Police seized an estimated 2,700 counterfeit pills, as well as 92,000 pills of suspected controlled medicine with an estimated market value of about HKD 16 million (USD 2 million). On this occasion, a senior customs official stated that combating counterfeit medicine remained a top priority.

Communication / Conference: 25% of Indonesian medicine thought fake

Indonesia - 06 September 2017

The Indonesia Anti-Counterfeiting Society (MIAP) claims fake drugs make up for 25% of the country’s USD 2 billion pharmaceutical markets. According to a 2015 study on Asian perceptions and buying habits with regards to counterfeit medicines, 86% of Indonesians were aware of the danger of counterfeit medicines, although more than half confess that they are unable to distinguish real medicines from fakes.

Legislation: Evolutions of medicines labelling

Russia - 06 September 2017

Mikhail Murashko, head of the Russian Federal Service for Surveillance in Healthcare, told journalists on October 16, 2017 that the new marking system will enable each patient to verify the legal registration of the medicine. Official experiment of labelling and monitoring the movement of drugs sold in pharmacies started in Russia in early 2017. In addition, the State Duma was to discuss in first lecture a draft bill on October 27 over mandatory marking system for all medicines sold in Russia from 2019 onwards. The labelling system must involve hundreds of manufacturers and distributors, as well as thousands of pharmacies.

Legislation: Kenya issues new pharmaceutical regulation

Kenya - 04 September 2017

Pharmaceutical drug importers are now required to obtain pre-shipment licenses to prevent counterfeits. The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) have made it compulsory for importers to obtain Certificates of Conformity (CoC) for their cargo before applying for import permits.

Legislation: Legal Daily calls for whistleblowers in fight against fake drugs

China - 24 August 2017

As the Chinese FDA raises cash rewards for informants from CNY 300,000 to CNY 500,000 (USD 45,263 to USD 75,445), an article published in China’s Legal Daily argues that, along with heftier monetary rewards, a whistleblowing procedure could go a long way toward helping law enforcement getting promising leads and incriminating evidence. The article argues that, because FDA cases are notoriously hard to crack and often rely on insider knowledge, getting more informants to come forward could turn the tide in the fight against counterfeiting.

Enforcement: Vietnamese doctors suspected of selling fake cancer drugs

Vietnam - 23 August 2017

Doctors of several hospitals stand accused of having been bought off to sell a fake cancer drug sold under the name of ‘H-Capita’. They allegedly accepted VND 7.5 trillion (or USD 330,223) in bribes from VN Pharma, a lab located in Ho Chi Minh City. According to prosecutors, VN Pharma CEO instructed his staff to forge documents and signatures from Helix Canada.

Legislation: Ratification of the MEDICRIME Convention by Burkina Faso

Europe - 27 July 2017

Council of Europe

On July 27, 2017, Burkina Faso is the tenth country to have ratified the Council of Europe's MEDICRIME Convention.
Africa is one of the continents most affected by the trafficking of fake medicines. West African countries have recently signed the Convention, such as Guinea, Ivory Coast and Benin, thus demonstrating their willingness to tackle this crime and to establish genuine legal levers.

The MEDICRIME Convention is the first international treaty against the falsification of medical products and similar crimes. It offers a legal framework for worldwide cooperation in prosecuting pharmaceutical crimes posing a global threat to public health. Opened for signature and ratification since October 2011 to all the countries of the world, the MEDICRIME Convention counts to date: 27 countries signatories (Member States and non-Members) and 10 countries have ratified it.

For Burkina Faso, the Convention will enter into force on 1 November 2017.

Signatures and ratification of Medicrime convention

Communication / Conference: Kenya unveils new measures to eradicate counterfeit medicine

Kenya - 26 July 2017


On July 25, 2017, Kenya's Ministry of Health announced a set of measures aiming at containing the proliferation of counterfeit pharmaceutical products.The Director of Medical Services in the Ministry of Health, Jackson Kioko said that the country acquired new technologies, and notably invested in digital Tools made for tackling and reporting counterfeit drugs on a real-time basis.

Travel Tips App: Protect your health when travelling abroad and avoid fake medicines

Available on mobile platforms, the "Travel Tips" application should be essential when travelling abroad. Attractive and easy to use, the App is built around advice for travelers and educational quiz.

Click HERE to learn more and download for free the application.

Protect your health when travelling abroad and avoid fake medicines

Legislation: MEDICRIME Convention is about to be signed by Benin

Benin - 20 June 2017

Benin Times

The MEDICRIME Convention is the first international treaty against falsification of medical products and similar crimes. It offers a legal framework for worldwide cooperation in prosecuting pharmaceutical crimes posing a global threat to public health. To date, 18 countries (member and non-member states of the Council of Europe) have signed the MEDICRIME Convention and 9 have ratified it.

In June 2017, the bill was adopted at the National Assembly of Benin for authorization to sign and ratify the MEDICRIME Convention of Council of Europe. According to Deputy Valère Tchobo, fake drugs are sold on the black market and in real pharmacies alike, and the convention should help in the fight against counterfeit drugs.

A new brochure was published containing all the information needed to know about the Convention. Discover the new MEDICRIME brochure

MEDICRIME brochure

Communication / Conference: Fake Harvoni uncovered in legal medicine supply chain in Germany

Germany - 20 June 2017


The German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) recently discovered counterfeit Harvoni, after a patient identified tablets as fake thanks to their color: genuine Harvoni tablets are orange while the tablets received by the patient were white. He then raised the alarm, enabling BfArM to intervene. The Institute said all other aspects of the medicine and its packaging, including the batch number and tablet form, match the features of genuine packs of Harvoni. Officials are now investigating on the tablets entry in the legitimate supply chain, and screening is underway to ascertain which ingredients they contain.

Internet / Enforcement: 6 Canadians arrested for selling fake cancer drugs online

Canada - 19 June 2017

CBC News

Six Canadian men have been arrested in U.S. extradition Act, in connection with an international internet drug investigation involving the distribution of counterfeit cancer drugs. U.S. federal prosecutors have accused the president and founder, and affiliated companies and associates in the United Kingdom and Barbados of illegally importing and selling USD 78 million worth of unapproved new drugs, misbranded drugs and counterfeit drugs to American doctors between 2009 and 2012.

Communication / Conference: In China, new rating system to evaluate pharmacies

China - 16 June 2017

Sina Med

The Market Supervision Bureau of Penglai city, in Shandong Province, is preparing a system to evaluate local pharmacies. According to this program, they will be granted a grade: from A for “Trustworthy” to D for “Serious unworthiness”. Depending on the grade obtained, inspections would be more or less frequent, up to 4 inspections a year for D-graded pharmacies. This plan is to be developed nationwide, and county, municipal, provincial and national level Food and Drugs Departments’ databases should be interconnected in 2019-2020, making it difficult for the pharmacies that were graded D to move elsewhere.

Enforcement: New marking system to fight against counterfeiting

Russia - 15 June 2017

Komsomolskaya Pravda 

On 1 June 2017, the Department of Revenue and the Federal Service for Surveillance in Healthcare (Roszdravnadzor) launched a system to clean the drug market from counterfeits: in pharmacies, the customer will be able to scan any drug and check all its information value chain, thanks to a special mark stamped on it. This system, which costs RUB 630 million (USD 10.63 million), was previously successfully tested on fur coats and was almost instantly profitable: customs duties went up RUB 500 million (USD 8.43 million). According to experts, 1% to 15% of the drug market would be made up with counterfeits or damaged products.

Enforcement: Crackdown on counterfeit Hepatitis C drugs in Egypt

Egypt - 15 June 2017

Egypt Independent

The Egyptian Administrative Control Authority (ACA) arrested a group of people, accused of selling imitations of Hepatitis C treatments and imitations of drugs treating infections and chronic pain. During this operation, ACA closed an unlicensed pharmaceutical company and 5 affiliated offices, seized thousands of forged drug packages, the material used to manufacture the forged products, and arrested 3 people.

Internet: Brazil removes 1,503 irregular online medicines advertisements in 2017

Brazil - 12 June 2017


The Brazil Sanitary Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) announced that, for the first six months of 2017, it removed 1,503 irregular announcements for medicine products, including counterfeit drugs and products such as Ritalin and Sibutramine, which can only be sold in pharmacies. The number of irregular announcements identified increased: 1,293 were removed in 2016, and 657 in 2015.

Communication / Conference: Czech authorities worried by E-commerce of fake drugs

Czech Republic - 08 June 2017

Fondation Chirac

E-commerce is a very popular practice in the Czech Republic, and people are increasingly making use of it to buy medicines. But in this country, as in others, fake medicines and falsified food supplements are acquiring an ever-greater number online, and seriously threatening patients’ health. Facing this growing phenomenon, the State Institute for Drug Control is launching an alert, encouraging the population to consult authorized and certified online pharmacies only. A specific website was created to inform patients about the involved risks, and to report fraudulent websites and suspicious remedies. According to the first analyses, many of them would come from Thailand, and would not be authorized to be sold in the Czech Republic.

Communication / Conference: Sanofi participates in the 2017 World Anticounterfeiting Day dedicated to medicines

France - 07 June 2017


Unifab (Union des Fabricants) held the 20th edition of World Anticounterfeiting Day on 7 June 2017. This year's event spotlighted counterfeit drugs, which have topped the list of the largest seizures made by French Customs over the past three years. And topping the list gives impressive numbers: with more than 2.5 million fake products intercepted, the drug sector is particularly affected by counterfeiting.

Sanofi and other French laboratories participated in the event in the good company of several national and international personalities. LEEM Director Philippe Lamoureux underlined that France is often used as a transit zone and thus not spared from counterfeiting. Pharmaceutical crime uses all possible vectors, including the online sale of medicines.

Speaking to an audience of nearly 200 people, Geoffroy Bessaud, the Head of Anti-Counterfeiting Coordination at Sanofi, explained how the Central Anticounterfeiting laboratory (LCAC) at the Sanofi Tours site analyzes falsified drugs from around the world (more than 2600 products in 2016) and how Sanofi protects patients from unsure products. "Through the coordination of healthcare actors for the deployment of these sophisticated technologies, we can collectively continue to improve our efforts to protect patients from falsified medicines", he concluded.

Sanofi participates in the 2017 World Anticounterfeiting Day dedicated to medicines

Credit : Unifab

Communication / Conference: WHO issues warning against a falsified vaccine to treat meningitis discovered in Niger

Niger - 07 June 2017


On May 31, the World Health Organization announced that a falsified version of a "Polysaccharide Meningococcal ACWY Vaccine" improperly labelled as being produced by the manufacturer "Bio-Manguinhos/Fiocruz" was circulating in Niger. So far, the Ministry of Health announced and seized one lot of this falsified vaccine, and an enquiry was pending to determine the quantity and the origin of the counterfeit vaccines introduced in the country.

  • WHO - Medical Product Alert N° 1/2017

Falsified Meningococcal ACWY Vaccine circulating in West Africa

Falsified Meningococcal ACWY Vaccine circulating in West Africa
Credit: WHO

Enforcement: More than 430,000 pills intercepted in illegal circuit in Portugal

Portugal - 03 June 2017


The National Drug Authority (Infarmed), in cooperation with the Tax and Customs Authority (AT), intercepted a total of 15,532 packages in the illegal drug circuit representing 436,686 units (as tablets or sachets). The figures are lower than those detected in 2015 as 25,306 packages and 619,980 units had been retained or returned. The main part of the illegal drugs are purchased online and shipped from countries such as United-States, not directly from the production sites.

Legislation: New US bill for tougher penalties for counterfeit medicines

United States - 01 June 2017 and Securing Industry

A new bill (the Drug Diversion and Counterfeit Crackdown Act of 2017), introduced in May, looks to amend the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, so that the penalties dished out to conmen counterfeiting medicines are on a par with criminals who divert legitimate drugs. This would aim at reducing the discrepancy currently existing between the two crimes, as a person guilty of producing and distributing counterfeit drugs in the US cannot be jailed for more than one year, nor fined more than USD 1,000, whereas diverting US-made drugs for foreign markets back into the US can lead to a 10-year prison sentence, and fines reaching USD 250,000.

H. R. 2376 - To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to protect and strengthen the drug supply chain in the United States by closing several statutory gaps in the penalty provisions of such Act that apply to drug diversion and counterfeiting.

Communication / Conference: Warning about counterfeit anti-cancer drugs with fake labels in Iran

Iran - 31 May 2017

Salamat News

Homayoun Hashemi, a member of the Parliamentary Health Committee, warned about the development of the sale of fake anti-cancer drugs with fake labels in the country. He then strongly criticized the lack of official supervision in the field of counterfeit medicines.

Technology: In Brazil, national drug tracking system launched in August

Brazil - 29 May 2017

Correio Braziliense

The National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) announced that a new national drug tracking system would start being tested in August, for one year. In its first stage, the system will include 5 types of medicines. The tracking system that will be fully set in 2022 will be narrower than imagined in 2009, when the law was initially adopted, and will not include the drugs distributed through the Unified Health System, nor those provided by the tuberculosis and AIDS programs. For ANVISA, the priority is to target medicines likely to be counterfeited and widely used, such as antibiotics or drugs for hypertension and diabetes. A first version of the regulation regarding the implementation of this test system has been published by ANVISA, and will be amended in the following months.

Communication / Conference: New WHO term for falsified medical products

International - 29 May 2017


The term "substandard and falsified (SF) medical products" was adopted at the 17th World Health Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) held 29 May 2017 in Geneva. It replaces the previous term of "substandard/spurious/falsely-labelled/falsified/counterfeit medical products". Falsified is now used to refer to items posing a risk for public health, whereas "counterfeit" is now reserved for intellectual property issues.

The WHO communiqué states that falsified medical products are those "that deliberately/fraudulently misrepresent their identity, composition or source".

New WHO term for falsified medical products

Communication / Conference: Activities on counterfeit drug prevention organized by the China FDA

China - 26 May 2017


In the frame of the Science and Technology Week in China, the China Food and Drug administration organized a series of activities in Beijing and several other Chinese locations, themed “Food safety, innovation and dreams”. FDA officers especially focused in raising public awareness about the risks of counterfeit drugs, and the methods to distinguish genuine and counterfeit medicines. The activities were organized in Hainan, Gansu, Guizhou, Guangxi, Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi and Jilin provinces.

Communication / Conference: Fighting counterfeit drugs - A new study carried out by Sanofi in Latin America finds high public awareness, but a mixed perception of dangers

Latin America - 17 May 2017


Sanofi has been working to prevent and fighting fake medicines for nearly 10 years. This counterfeiting problem is most acute in Asia, Africa and Latin America, where it is easier to evade controls on distribution channels. In those regions, counterfeit drugs can represent up to 30% of the market.

The Internet has also become a major vector for counterfeit trafficking. For example, according to WHO, counterfeits account for 50% of medicines sold on websites that conceal their physical addresses.

Sanofi, as a partner of the 2017 France-Colombia Year, carried out a study on the perception of counterfeit medicines in Latin America: Read the press release and the study results here.

Fighting counterfeit drugs

Communication / Conference: Sanofi raises public awareness on fake medicines for France-Colombia year

Colombia - 17 May 2017

Année France-Colombie (in French) and Ambassade de France (in French)

Sanofi is a partner of the 2017 France-Colombia Year, launched 16 December 2016. The first half-year "season" (16 December to 14 July) will celebrate France in Colombia and the second (23 June to 16 December) Colombia in France. According to the website of the French Embassy in Bogota, the objective of France-Colombia Year is to "accompany the country's profound transformation and international projection efforts to renew and improve its image in France and Europe".

Within this setting, a forum entitled "Pharmaceutical Crime: Issues and Threats for Public Health" was held in Bogota on 17–18 May 2017. The forum aimed at developing the exchange of French and Colombian experiences to optimize the war on counterfeit medicines and strengthen the protection of public health in partnership with Sanofi. The French Embassy in Bogota and the Secretariat for Transparency of the Presidency of the Republic of Colombia participated in the organization of the event, which united an audience of 160 French authorities, Colombian authorities and experts from pertinent fields.

Sanofi raises public awareness on fake medicines for France-Colombia Year
The ambassador of France in Colombia, Jean-Marc Laforet during the Forum.

Communication / Conference: More training to struggle against counterfeit drugs in Algeria

Algeria - 17 May 2017

Algérie Eco

In the frame of the 18th International Pharmaceutical Forum organized in Alger on May 15th, 2017, Djamel Brika, Director of the public relations department at the General Directorate of the Algerian Customs, explained that customs officers did not received any specific training to recognize the counterfeit drugs, which is an especially difficult task. M. Brika asked to the medicine manufacturers to invite custom officers to visit their premises, to acquire the knowledge required to determine if a drug is counterfeited or not. M. Birka also explained that, for example, important amounts of drugs were seized at Tébessa and at Tamanrasset in the South of the country, but that it was not possible to ascertain if the drugs were genuine or not.

Algerian Customs seized 17,272 boxes of counterfeit drugs in 2016, for a total value of DZD 1.2 million (USD 11,059) and, since 2017, they opened 9 cases concerning 13,809 units.

Communication / Conference: 16% of US counterfeit goods seized involve pharmaceuticals

United States - 16 May 2017

According to the United States Trade Representative (USTR)’s 2017 Special 301 Report, published in May 2017, 16% of the 31,560 US government seizures of counterfeit goods in 2016 involved pharmaceuticals. 90% of counterfeit pharmaceuticals seized came from China (including Hong Kong), India, and Singapore. US customs authorities have been working with their counterparts around the world, and most recently, with Singapore and China, to prevent counterfeit pharmaceutical sales in the US. For instance, in April, 2016, a month-long operation with China resulted in over 1,400 seizures of counterfeits, including some pharmaceuticals, while a cooperative program with Singapore was launched in August, 2016.

Enforcement: Two suspects held in custody for selling fake pig vaccines in Taiwan

Taiwan - 16 May 2017

Focus Taiwan

Two suspects have been arrested on suspicion of supplying pig farmers with fake vaccines. The counterfeit vaccines were supplied by a man who was selling them at TWD 63 (USD 2.07) per dose through a middleman, according to a statement issued by the Yunlin District Prosecutors Office on May 15. They said the two suspects have earned at least TWD 25 million (USD 821,386) with this fraud. Pig farmers were duped because the vaccines carried labels and trademarks, and were accompanied by a fake but official-looking certificate of authenticity.

Communication / Conference: 95% drugs advertised in satellite channels and cyber space would be counterfeit in Iran

Iran - 11 May 2017

Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA)

Iranian drug expert, Mohammad Baghaei, is concerned about the figure of 95% of the drugs being sold through satellite channels ads broadcasted in Iran and cyber space are counterfeit. Many of them pretend they are approved by the American FDA or by the Iranian Ministry of Health, whereas they are not.

Enforcement: 40 tons of fake medicines seized during a market breakup in Abidjan

Ivory Coast - 04 May 2017

On 3 June 2017, Ivory Coast authorities dispatched 700 police officers to break up a fake drugs market at Adjamé-Roxy, in Abidjan, and seized 40 tons of counterfeit products. This market was supposed to supply nearly a third of all treatments sold in the country. According to a local association of pharmaceutical retailers, such "street pharmacies" cost the country's legal pharmaceutical sector XOF 40 to 50 billion (USD 69,261,900 to 86,577,300) each year, including XOF 5 billion (USD 8,657,730) of lost revenue for the government. On March 10, the authorities had already incinerated 50 tons of falsified drugs worth EUR 1 million (USD 1,135,820).

Following this early-June operation, the Ministry of Health announced that the authorities were realizing a long term operation and running several awareness campaign targeting the 8,000 women involved in illegal drug.

Communication / Conference: In Ukraine, up to 50% of the drugs could be counterfeit

Ukraine - 27 April 2017

Gorod Kh

According to experts of the pharmaceutical industry, the number of counterfeit drugs traded in Ukraine pharmacies goes up steadily, covering all kind of drugs from antiseptics to anticancer drugs. Hence, in 2016, the administration issued 31 orders prohibiting the trade of 21 counterfeit drug brands, and during the first three months of 2017, six brands were prohibited. According to the head on the Internet project « Medicine Control », around 1% of the drugs in Ukraine are counterfeit, but according to a pediatrician in Kharkov the number could amount to 50%.

Communication / Conference: Creation of a system to curb the counterfeit drugs

Caribbean region - 12 April 2017

Securing Industry

A new regulatory system (Caribbean Regulatory System, CRS) was established in the Carribean region to provide registration, product reviews and pharmacovigilance support to Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) members. The CRS was established by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), in collaboration with CARICOM, the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, and with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The CRS should contribute to tackle the presence of counterfeit and substandard drugs in this region of 17 million people where, according to some reports, the counterfeit market share could reach 30% of the pharmaceutical market.

Legislation: Burkina Faso signs the Medicrime Convention

Burkina Faso - 16 February 2017

On February 16th, 2017, Burkina Faso was the 27th State to sign the « Medicrime Convention » (Convention of the Council of Europe on counterfeit medical products and similar offences threatening public health). This Convention is the only international tool criminalizing the counterfeiting of medical products and similar offences that might have an effect on patients’ health.

Communication / Conference: A death due to counterfeit anti-cancer drug in the United States

United States - 02 February 2017

The Partnership for Safe Medicines

In 2011, a woman died in Arizona of advanced stage lung cancer. She was treated with counterfeit Avastin. In a Danish documentary “Lethal Fake Medicine / Medicin der Dræber”, FDA-OCI investigator Dan Burke describes what happened to her:

“This is a case involving counterfeit Avastin, which is a cancer medication. That case really started with a victim, a woman who went into an oncology clinic and had a reaction to the Avastin. And we come to find out it wasn’t Avastin at all, it was labeled Altzuan, which is a Turkish version, and we found out that it did not contain the active pharmaceutical ingredient.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) raided the doctor’s office which they determined was water and mold. The doctor was informed that she had purchased counterfeit drugs.

In January 2014, Ozkan Semizoglu and Sabahaddin Akman of Ozay Pharmaceuticals were sentenced to 30 months in prison for their role in delivering fake cancer drugs to illicit suppliers based in Canada.

Communication / Conference: Hospitals treated children with counterfeit chemotherapy drugs in Mexico

Mexico - 27 January 2017

The Partnership for Safe Medicines

An investigation into the corruption of former Governor Javier Duarte has uncovered allegations that children with cancer were treated in state-run hospitals in Veracruz with counterfeit chemotherapy medicines due to budget shortfalls and lack of resources caused by his administration. The BBC reports, that when tested, the counterfeit chemotherapy drugs came back as an inert compound. It was essentially distilled water.

Current Governor Miguel Angel Yunes Linares said, “This seems to us a brutal crime, an attempt against the lives of the children.” Authorities have lab tests results that were performed by Roche Laboratories dating back to 2010 to prove the use of fake chemotherapy drugs. According to Telesur, Prosecutors allege that Duarte embezzled or misspent as much as US $2 billion since he took office nearly six years ago.

An investigation is underway and Governor Yunes Linares has said a legal complaint will be filed when it is completed.

Communication / Conference: A new interception operation in 16 countries in Africa allows the seizure of 113 million illicit pharmaceutical products

International - 20 January 2017

January 20th, 2017 - IRACM and WCO

On January 20, 2017, IRACM (International Institute of Research Against Counterfeit Medicines) and WCO (World Customs Organization) organized a media breakfast in Paris to unveil the results of ACIM operation (Action against Counterfeit and Illicit Medicines) and presented the ongoing evolutions of traffickers’ practices such as fraud routes, concealment methods, or classes of medicines. This is a new record seizure of 113 million illicit and potentially dangerous pharmaceutical products which took place in September 2016.

Operation ACIM mobilized 16 African customs administrations over a ten-day period, from 5 to 14 September 2016, to inspect simultaneously, in the main ports on the continent, cargoes identified as likely to contain illicit or counterfeit pharmaceutical products posing a dangerous threat to local populations. Most treatments were: antimalarial drugs, anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, and analgesics, as well as gastro-intestinal medicines.

ACIM Operation

Internet: Fake ads removed by Google

International - 17 January 2017

In 2016, Google removed over 1.7 billion ads worldwide, and banned more than 200 websites from the company’s AdSense network, due to the growth of misleading content. The company reported that it disabled over 68 million ads in 2016 for healthcare violations, and specifically limits the promotions of pharmaceutical drugs on their AdSense network. Their AdSense policy states that ads cannot contain content related to the online sale of prescription drugs or the sale of unapproved supplements.

Legislation: New rules regarding the sale of drugs by online pharmacies to come into effect in Russia

Russia - 12 January 2017

The new rules for the sale of drugs by online pharmacies will come into force in October 2017 according to a document published by the Ministry of Health on the official portal of legal information. The new amendments added to the law aim at combating counterfeit products and must also help controlling the pharmaceuticals prescriptions.

It is currently is forbidden to sell drugs online in Russia, but the legalization of this market segment is scheduled for October 2017.

Legislation: A new law approved to combat counterfeiting in the United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates - 02 January 2017

A new law aimed at fighting against counterfeit goods and commercial fraud was approved by United Arab Emirates autorities in December 2016. The law notably empowers the court to order confiscation or destruction of food, medical drugs, crops and tools, and anyone deceiving or attempting to deceive another party by fraud of such products may be punished.
The law takes effect immediately. The maximum sentence can be up to 2 years imprisonment and a fine of up to 1 million dirahmas of UAE, or more than US$272,000.



Fight the fakes