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Articles from November 2007

BMA warns of the dangers of buying drugs on the internet

A warning to patients about the dangers of buying prescription drugs via the internet came today (29/11/2007) from the British Medical Association (BMA). The Association wants to work with the government and the World Health Organization to control internet sales of medicines, some of which are counterfeit and potentially harmful. Read the full press release here. (29 November 2007, British Medical Association)

China to impost stiff penalty on fake drug makers and dealers

China plans to impose stiff penalties on individuals, manufacturers and health institutions involved in producing, selling and using fake drugs. Those involved in cases where fake drugs lead to “very serious damage” to human health may face heavy fines, life imprisonment or even the death penalty. These stiff penalties were released in a draft judicial interpretation by the state drug safety watchdog, which was jointly written by China’s Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate. (29 November 2007, xinhuanet News)

MHRA shifts counterfeit battle up a gear

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has published its first ever anti-counterfeit strategy, as well as launching a new 24-hour hotline for reporting suspected incidences of fake medicines. In the past three years, the UK has made nine recalls of specific batches of counterfeit medicines, which had made it to pharmacy and patient level, causing serious concern over the security of the supply chain. The MHRA has stated, “Through highlighting the issue and risks involved to both the public and distributors it is possible to undermine the market for counterfeit medicine in the UK”. Their three year plan is based on three key fronts: communication, collaboration and regulation. (27 November 2007, www.pharmatimes.com)

UK’s ‘pivotal role’ in fake medicines

Customs officials and regulators have warned that Britain is playing a pivotal role in the growing illegal trade in counterfeit medicines. There have been several recent seizures at British airports involving “remailing” – whereby manufacturers, typically from Asia, send fake drugs ordered over the internet in North America via the UK, to conceal their origin and reduce buyers’ suspicions. This reflects a growing pattern of seizures around the world, with a nearly four-fold jump reported across the European Union last year compared with 2005. Read the full article of this name on http://www.ft.com/. (23 November 2007, www.ft.com)

Fake prescription drugs are deadly to patients and scientific research

The mass production of counterfeit drugs threatens to cripple the U.S. pharmaceutical industry, as well as posing a threat to public health. Legislation making it legal to import prescription drugs from abroad would lead to a deluge of fakes entering the legitimate supply chain. When the legitimate companies involved in manufacturing life-saving drugs realise that it may be impossible to recoverthe investments they make in producing genuine, safe medicines because of counterfeiters, they could decide to spend their time and effort elsewhere. (13 November 2007, Sun-Sentinel.com)

Counterfeit medicines supplier sentenced  

A woman who supplied counterfeit prescription drugs worth almost €350,000 to the UK has today been sentenced to two and a half years in prison. A wide selection of slimming pills, erectile dysfunction pills, painkillers and anabolic steroids were found in the woman’s flat in November 2006. Officers discovered that the drugs originated in Pakistan and were mailed to the UK citizen, who was paid in cash. During the raid, officers also found twelve fake passports hidden inside a suitcase. (5 November 2007, www.mhra.gov.uk)

Fighting the fakes

Visible action by the pharmaceutical industry is needed to minimise the risk of counterfeit medicines to the public. The industry must explain the problem and reassure the public that it is taking steps to help find and prosecute the criminals. Research from Together4Health, presented at the end of October in Dublin may alert the public, the industry and the EU Government to the scale of the problem. Patients themselves can be a very useful resource against counterfeiters, by being vigilant with their medicines. (November/December 2007, Pharma Marketing)