Sunday, June 7, 2015

Internet Counterfeiting

For the thousands of websites in the internet, hundreds of those are non-existent, no physical address or not really operating. There are also some who set up websites to scam people in biting their “services or products” and get money. Everything is possible with witty scammers nowadays. 

The Peterson Group, a non-profit organization campaigning against the widespread of counterfeit drugs is mostly alarmed on this latest tactic of these fraudulent people. TPG, along with World Health Organization and other non-profit organizations and governmental institutes is currently finding solutions on the laws and security of our citizens online. Warnings are already put online and seminars are being held.

Medicines purchased over the Internet from illegal sites that conceal their physical address have been found to be counterfeit in over 50% of cases. Since pharmacies had set up legitimate websites to offer clients convenience and savings, scammers took advantage of the chance and set up their websites as well.

Forming an accurate picture of the extent of counterfeit medicines is difficult. Current sources of information include reports from national medicines regulatory authorities (NMRAs), enforcement agencies, pharmaceutical companies and nongovernmental organizations, as well as ad hoc studies on specific geographical areas or therapeutic groups. But the variety of these sources, and the different methods used to produce reports and studies, make compiling and comparing statistics a difficult task. Moreover, studies can only give snapshots of the immediate situation. Medicines counterfeiters are extremely flexible in the methods they use to mimic products and prevent their detection. They can change these methods from day to day. Therefore, when the results of a study are released, they may already be outdated. Also, information about a case under legal investigation is sometimes only made public after the investigation has been concluded. A study that is not able to include such case information is perforce incomplete.

Largest market of counterfeit medicines is reportedly from Jakarta, Indonesia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Taiwan since these developing countries are patrons of online shops. Internet-based sales of pharmaceuticals are a major source of counterfeit medicines, threatening those who seek cheaper, stigmatized or unauthorized treatments.

One solution for the widespread issue is to shut off websites catering medical services to know which ones are illegally operating. However, pharmaceutical companies are entirely against it since consumers now manage to embrace the new technological method to purchase their medicines. Shutting the websites off would affect the entirety of operations and would therefore cost millions of dollars to be lost. Critics and organizations are continuously debating about it and solutions are still being reviewed and sought after. 

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