Medical Ethics

Counterfeit pharmaceuticals

Public release date: 16-Jul-2007

Agencies worldwide are cracking down on counterfeit pharmaceuticals, and much of the focus has been on China, where an official was recently executed for approving fake medicines. While most of these drugs reach consumers through online or illegal suppliers, there’s a growing threat to outlets considered more safe, like the neighborhood pharmacy, said Temple University pharmacoeconomist, Albert Wertheimer, Ph.D., who will talk about combating counterfeit pharmaceuticals coming out of China at a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) seminar on July 23 and 24 in Philadelphia

Internet pharmacies, which are extremely difficult to monitor and regulate, pose the biggest threat, but counterfeits could soon make their way into mainstream channels via sophisticated fakery and old-fashioned bribery.

In general, counterfeit means that a drug can lack an important ingredient, contain a harmful ingredient or be mislabeled. Some of the most commonly counterfeited drugs include those for erectile dysfunction, depression, anxiety and infection. In a recent study, the World Health Organization determined global sales of counterfeit drugs to be $32 billion in 2003 – 10 percent of all medicines sold worldwide.

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