Articles from July 2010

Privately owned pharmaceutical trading company found in possession of counterfeit drugs

Directors of AlphaPharma, a Maltese pharmaceutical trading and services company, have been taken to court and are facing charges of copyright infringement after officials found a separate section of the company warehouse containing 700 packets of counterfeit Plavix, each containing 28 tablets. The directors are also being charged with importing medicines without a licence.

Alphafarma decided to contest the charges as opposed to paying a fine to avoid facing charges. The company was supported by the claim of a Customs inspector who testified that a week before the raid was carried out, the company had already reported the medicines to the Medicines Authority, and that the medicines had been quarantined, separate to the rest of the company’s warehouse, under Customs supervision.

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World Customs Organisation signs declaration to crack down on counterfeits

World Customs Organization (WCO) Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya recently signed a declaration vowing for the 176 Member Customs administrations to combat the counterfeit pharmaceutical industry.

„Countries across the globe, in particular those in Africa, suffer the scourge of being flooded with fake and sub-standard medicine,“ Mikuriya said during an address to the WCO’s 176 member countries, during which he signed the declaration to clamp down on the distribution of such drugs.

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MHRA reveals further expanse of the counterfeit slimming pills market

Counterfeits of two prescription-only anti-obesity pills- Xenical (brand name for Roche’s orlistat) and Reductil, (brand name for Abbott Laboratories‘ sibutramine) were found in the basement of a central London house, revealing the booming market in counterfeit slimming pills seen in the UK.

The drugs were found simply wrapped in Middle Eastern newspapers or just wrapped up in elastic bands alongside piles of ‘patient instructions’ ready to be supplied to unknowing internet consumers.

Mike Deats, head of enforcement with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said „There is no such thing as a good counterfeit medicine. These have been made in substandard conditions, they contain impurities we don’t even know about. Just because they contain some active ingredient doesn’t mean that they’re good.“ Further to unknowing ingredients, one of the counterfeit slimming pills found, Reductil, has been withdrawn from legal sale in Europe over possibilities it could increase the risk of heart attacks in those with cardiovascular disease.

„The internet has provided a global market place for the counterfeiters. They know where the demand is and they know where the maximum profits can be made. So they aim these products through illegal pharmacies and illegal websites at the developed world where internet penetration is high“ Mike Deats explained. The safest option, he advised, is to see your GP.

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Reverse engineering of pharmaceuticals can help fight counterfeit drugs

Chemical imaging specialists at Malvern Instruments are using the SyNIRgi near infrared chemical imaging (NIRCI) system to demonstrate how data derived from reverse engineering of pharmaceutical tablets can aid the fight against counterfeit drugs. The team have been able to collect data detailed enough to characterise the formulation and processes used to create individual dosages, of which can then be compared to both the original manufacturer specifications and a database of known counterfeits.

SyNIRgi combines the species identification capabilities of conventional near infrared spectroscopy with digital imaging, to answer the ‚what?‘, ‚how much?‘ and ‚where?‘ questions of suspect drugs non-destructively in minutes.

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