Articles from February 2009

Thousands have taken counterfeit drugs

Four emergency drugs recalls were issued in June 2007. Thirty-thousand packs of fake life-saving drugs may have been consumed by NHS patients, the BBC has reported.

The Medicines Health products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) issued four emergency drugs recall notices in June 2007. An MHRA official told the BBC, 30,000 out of a batch of 70,000 fake drugs were still unaccounted for. Asked what happened to the 30,000 packs unaccounted for, Mr Deats, Head of Enforcement said: “They would have been consumed by the patients.” He added “It’s extremely rare to see counterfeit medicines in the regulated supply chain. It’s a tiny fraction of a proportion.”

A UK wholesaler had spotted discrepancies in packaging of stock bought elsewhere in Europe through parallel trade, but by the time that was reported, the drugs had been distributed to chemist shops, hospitals and doctors. Mr Deats said: “We think about 70,000 packs were in the batch of which we seized about 40,000. Thirty-two thousand of the sub-standard medicines went out to pharmacy level and some got to patients and a recall was conducted where the majority of those were recovered. To read the full story Click Here (03 February 2009, BBC)

Singapore Report On Illegal Impotence Medication Show 4 Dead And 3 In Comas

A report by the health authorities in Singapore has warned about the dangers of using “off-label” drugs to enhance sexual performance. Based on the fact that 149 men and one woman were admitted into hospital in Singapore in a period of five months last year suffering from severe hypoglycemia which is usually associated with diabetics.

The report explains that some erectile dysfunction medications containing the active ingredients of Viagra, Cialis and Levitra also had glyburide, causing prolonged neuroglycopenia in some of the men and four of them subsequently died with three remaining in comas.

Two of the products even had small amounts of sibutramine which is the active ingredient of the weight loss medication Reductil, highlighting that these illegal erectile dysfunction medications are just a cocktail of prescription medications made with no regard for the patient. Whatever the case men must be aware that if they use anything for erectile dysfunction which is not prescribed by doctor they are putting their lives at risk and could end up in hospital or even dead like some of the unfortunate men in Singapore. To read the full story Click Here (15 February 2009, ukmedix)

EU Commission defends the proposals on counterfeit drugs

European Commission vice-president Guenter Verheugen has defended the Commission’s proposals for tackling the danger to consumers of counterfeit medicines, after a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) condemned the plans for doing too little to curb Internet sales.

At a hearing of the Parliament’s committee on environment, public health and food safety (ENVI), held this week to discuss the pharmaceutical package unveiled by the Commission in December, Cypriot MEP Adamos Adamou described the internet as a “Trojan horse” in the pharmaceutical supply chain which the Commission has left to Parliament to tackle. Counterfeit drugs are “a form of terrorism against human health” and consumers currently have no guarantee that the products they are buying are safe, he said.

Responding to Mr Adamou’s criticisms, Commissioner Verheugen told the committee how Internet pharmacies are already regulated and that it is up to the member states to enforce existing laws. Ahead of the ENVI committee hearing, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) urged Parliament to make the pharmaceutical package a priority. “It is the responsibility of EU decision-makers to ensure safety for its citizens; this exchange of views provide the platform for the European Parliament to demonstrate their commitment to this duty of care,” said EFPIA director-general Brian Ager. To read the full story Click Here (19 February 2009, Pharmatimes)