Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Deadly Fakes Around the World

The widespread of counterfeit medicines is inherently a dangerous problem. However, its distribution is not even in different parts of the world. Despite World Health Organization’s (WHO) effort to defeat counterfeiting in one stride, different measures are needed for each region. The loose punishment scheme in many countries and the strictness on others, the different strategies, transportation and distribution methods used and the variety of medicines being falsified are considered as hindering factors for full implementation of security measures. Although rich nations have fewer breakdowns on the issue, they are not exempted from the threat.

A plethora of evidences, methods and types were covered by WHO and have shared to other institutions campaigning on the same cause. One of them is The Peterson Group, a non-profit organization which has been advocating against the proliferation of counterfeit medicine since 2005. On its ten years, the group, which has formed members across South East Asia, Australia, the United States and United Kingdom, has gathered reports from different developing cities and nations. The following is the summary of each region’s brief background on counterfeiting medicines:

North America

Counterfeit medication is a recognized and well documented problem in the United States. One case in 1937 has featured more than a hundred deaths after consuming medicines containing the dangerous solvent diethylene glycol.

Some counterfeiters in the United States are even found to be using fraudulent connections to terrorism. WHO has also found that the profit from counterfeit medicines have been used to fund the famous terrorist group Hezbollah.


There are few fake and substandard drugs in most European countries for reasons similar to those articulated above for the United Sates: quality producers dominate the market, supply chains are generally well regulated, and officials provide strong oversight and strict enforcement when pharmaceutical standards are violated. Still, preventing fakes from entering or travelling through the two dozen European territories is a constant challenge for enforcement officials.


Cambodian Ministry of Health has released a statement stating that 13% of the nation’s medicines are fraudulent. Warnings on health precautions are already released by local government units and private pharmaceutical companies as most counterfeit medicines are found in informal and unlicensed units.


Counterfeiting in Indonesia has grown despite the warnings of death penalty as punishment. By 2008, 44% of medicines in the market are counterfeited, even sold in legitimate pharmacies. 11 men were arrested in the capital city, Jakarta for refilling syringes with water, forging expiration dates and repackaging. 

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