5 Facts about Counterfeit Drugs

Sales of fake drugs with brand-name labels have been on the rise for the past couple of years. Lack of strict laws, high profits and low risks all contribute to prevalence of the situation. To give an idea of the scope of the problem, here is a list of surprising, yet informative facts about counterfeit drugs. Hopefully this will make patients more cautious when purchasing drugs and make them less likely to be victims of counterfeiting.

1. Counterfeiting, while more common in developing countries, is also present in many developed countries, including Australia, Japan, USA and some parts of the EU. Counterfeit drugs tend to come in the form of "lifestyle" drugs and drugs for chronic conditions wealthier countries, while in poorer countries, counterfeit anti-infection drugs are more common.

2. It is estimated that in Asia and Africa, more than 50% of marketed drugs found in markets are fakes. In contrast, about 1% of the medicines sold in developed markets are fake. (WHO)

3. Drugs purchased through the internet are more likely to be counterfeit. In May 2012, Chinese authorities arrested of 200 people accused of making and selling fake drugs. According to the government, many of the fake medicines were being marketed on Internet sites, giving the criminals a method to reach out directly to consumers.

4. Counterfeit drugs may contain a form of active drug—but not necessarily the one it is supposed to have. Sometimes toxic chemicals are injected in place of the real medicine. The most alarming ones were those for tuberculosis and HIV, where drugs can result in continued and rapid infectivity or cause an emergence of drug resistance.

5. А counterfeit drug can easily deceive buyers, especially if it is copied to make it look like the original product and comes from а supposedly legitimate source. This infographic illustrates the complicated process through which manufactured drugs reach the patients. In addition, drugs are not sold to patients like other consumer goods, but are prescribed by doctors or health workers. So the consumers in this market lack specialized knowledge to differentiate between a counterfeit and a genuine drug.

Want to learn more about counterfeit drugs and measures taken to reduce them? Here are some recommended readings for you:

Counterfeit Drugs: a Deadly Problem
Pharma firms spend 10% of production cost on tech tie-ups
General information on counterfeit medicines

Are you an expert on counterfeit drugs and would like to speak about it to an audience of researchers and manufacturers? Or are you a researcher who wants to present his findings on counterfeit medicines? Do consider participating in the BioPharma Asia Convention in March 2013. You knowledge may help the industry take one step closer to tackling this deadly problem.

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