Articles from August 2009

4th Annual Pharmaceutical Anti-Counterfeiting Strategies Conference – 7th – 8th September 2009, London, UK

The EAASM Chairman, Jim Thomson will be presenting on the topic of ‘Tackling Europe’s anti-counterfeit weaknesses: a patient’s perspective’ at the 4th Annual Pharmaceutical Anti-Counterfeiting Strategies Conference.

Click here for more information about the event, alteratively please contact Nini Wei, or Tel: 44(0) 207 549 9941, for more details.

Smugglers expand into fake drugs racket

The same international smugglers who are bringing billions of cigarettes into Ireland are also supplying counterfeit Viagra tablets, a conference in Kenya was told yesterday by a senior figure involved in the international strategy to battle the counterfeiters and smugglers who now supply a « staggering » amount of tobacco and other products.

In Ireland, dissident groups such as the Real IRA have been identified by customs as being the largest smugglers of tobacco, using routes formerly used by the Provisional IRA across Europe.

Mr McCreddie, commenting on one gang detected by UK customs said: « Exactly the same gang is counterfeiting Viagra and £1 coins. » He said the ‘Viagra’ usually contains chalk or talcum powder. Counterfeiting and smuggling of goods is now possibly the biggest global criminal conspiracy, he said. To read the full story Click Here (The Irish Independant, 3 August 2009)

Fighting a Bitter Prescription

One of the most vibrant cities in the world, renowned as a crossroads between East and West, Istanbul has benefited hugely as the hub of a major trade route. But the benefit of being at such a key location also brings the burden of care—that goods passing through should be safe and legal. It was therefore appropriate that in Istanbul I met with pharmaceutical experts trying to stop the lethal trade in counterfeit drugs.

Turkish businesses benefit from more than a dozen free trade zones throughout the country, which allow for a low tax environment to boost exports and earn foreign currency. But with the benefits of open trade, particularly light regulation, comes the downside—these zones are transit points for fake drugs. In a sampling of drugs purchased over the internet in the United States, more packages came from Turkey than any other location. The Turkish government has made various attempts to limit the trade, notably by banning internet drug sales.

On October 19, 2008, the Istanbul Financial Crimes Department concluded the initial phase of a major operation called « Aci Recete » (Bitter Prescription) with a series of raids on suspected purveyors of counterfeit drugs. Seven dozen targets—offices, houses, warehouses, pharmacists, and so on.

Seventy-seven people were arrested in Istanbul for threats to public health and various different types of fraud and document forgery. The perpetrators were involved in all aspects of the counterfeit drugs trade—importers and local manufacturers of counterfeit products; wholesale distributors who were repackaging fake and old medicines, which should have been destroyed; printers making packaging for the manufacturers. Down the chain, pharmacists, doctors, and nurses were also involved in the scam. In addition to much paperwork and printed materials, four truck loads of fake and old pharmaceuticals were seized. Over three dozen arrests were made in other parts of Turkey. Only China, South Korea, and Brazil made more arrests of counterfeiters than Turkey.

Turkish authorities are also rolling out a barcode tracking system for all pharmaceutical products. This will provide the ability to track products from entry into the country (or production in the country) through to the point of sale. It is encouraging that Turkey is moving forward; let’s hope its example will be followed by those countries on trade routes to the South and East, where so far there has been little movement or action.To read the full story Click Here (The American, 01 August 2009)

Danger warning to consumers who buy fake swine-flu drug

CONSUMERS who buy special flu medication over the internet risk taking fake pills containing harmful chemicals.Swine flu fears mean that Tamiflu is now the most ‘spammed’ medicine on the internet and is overtaking even the impotence drug Viagra. Patients are being reminded that Tamiflu, for the relief of viral flu symptoms, is now available nationwide on a doctor’s prescription.

A host of web-based firms have been offering anti-viral treatments by mail order — but leading medical groups have warned that these medicines are unverified and potentially unsafe. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) warned that Tamiflu supplies bought over the internet are mostly fake and could contain anything from sugar to traces of rat poison.

RPS official David Pruce urged consumers to only go through reputable channels for medicines and he pointed out that such drugs purchased over the internet could be sourced from anywhere and could contain anything.

« When it is counterfeit medicines and you’ve got really no idea what is in the tablet or the capsule, you are really taking your life in your hands, » he warned. To read the full story Click Here (The Irish Independant, 05 August 2009)

Bing provides haven for illegal drug suppliers

It has been claimed that Microsoft’s new search engine Bing is a haven for illegal businesses operating online pharmacies. An investigation reported by the Register revealed that almost 9 in 10 sponsored links advertising prescription drugs through Bing are in direct violation of US laws.

The decision engine, was intended by Microsoft as a direct competitor to Google’s dominance in the search engine market, but it’s clear that unlawful enterprises are exploiting the service as it overcomes its teething problems.

A joint investigation was carried out by Knujon (‘no junk’ spelled backwards) and Legitscript, who spent the past month entering search terms for prescription drugs into Bing and monitoring the resulting advertisements. Their conclusion is that 89.7 percent of businesses currently advertising prescription drugs through Bing are operating illegally.

Ten serious offenders found to be operated by criminal networks were examined in depth. These advertisers sold counterfeit drugs, including addictive medications, without requirement of a prescription from the buyer. The researchers ordered and received drugs from two of these sites, at least one of which, claiming to be Cialis, was found to be counterfeit.

Many of the advertisers sold drugs from India and other countries in violation of US law, while other sites were found to be operated by members of a Russian criminal gang. Other sites purported to be those of legitimate, reputable companies, but clicking on their sponsored link led browsers to illegal rogue sites.

Microsoft’s guidelines require online pharmacies to comply with US federal and state laws, but a Microsoft representative has thus far declined to comment. As Microsoft’s answer to Google and a major financial investment for the company, Bing is up against tough competition and needs to overcome these initial obstacles to gain acceptance as a viable alternative. A continuing investigation into Bing, as well as other major search engines, will be the subject of further reports. To read the full story Click Here (Big Mouth Media, 05 August 2009)

China owns up Nigerian fake drugs cargo

NEW DELHI: China has promised action against its pharmaceutical companies involved in shipping fake drugs to Nigeria with ‘Made in India’ labels. 
The Chinese authorities have admitted the shipments confiscated by the Nigerian government had originated from China and the manufacturers involved need to be punished, a commerce department official has said.

“The Chinese government has communicated to us that the pharmaceutical companies involved in the fake drugs case were indeed from their country. It has also promised that suitable action will be taken against these companies for selling fake drugs and tarnishing the name of another country,” a commerce ministry official told ET on condition of anonymity.

Nigeria’s drug regulatory authority, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (Nafdac), had confiscated a large consignment of fake anti-malarial generic drugs with ‘Made in India’ tags shipped from China in May. The cartons had labels bearing the names and addresses of Chinese manufacturers. According to Nafdac, had the drugs not been seized, as many as 6,42,000 adults could have been affected.

Following the incident, India had put pressure on the Chinese government to act against the rogue companies. Since Africa is an important market for the Indian pharmaceutical industry—accounting for about 15% of India’s total drugs exports worth Rs 30,000 crore every year—it cannot afford to get a bad name in the continent.

India sent a delegation to Africa last month to meet regulatory authorities there and discuss quality norms related to packaging and stamping to clamp down on supply of fake drugs. To read the full story Click Here (Economic Times, 04 August 2009)