Internet led to global 'explosion' of fake drugs

June 14, 2012
The rapid growth of Internet commerce has led to an explosion of counterfeit drugs sold around the world, with China the biggest source of fake medicines, pharmaceutical experts say.

The rapid growth of Internet commerce has led to an explosion of counterfeit drugs sold around the world, with China the biggest source of fake medicines, pharmaceutical experts said Thursday.

The is now believed to be worth around 75 billion dollars globally, with criminal gangs increasingly using the web to move their products across borders, said Scott Davis, Pfizer's top security expert for Asia.

"The Internet has led to an explosion of availability of these products," Davis told a health forum in Manila.

"About 90 percent of ... are at some point marketed and sold on the Internet."

He said websites selling fake drugs commonly did not have physical addresses and exploited weak or murky customs regulations to ship their products.

"They are getting more sophisticated," he said, adding that were finding it ever more difficult to tell the fake drugs from the real.

"We often have to send the pills to our labs to tell us the difference," he said.

The US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer makes the anti-impotence drug Viagra, which along with Eli Lilly's Cialis are among the world's most widely copied drugs.

"But now it's not just Viagra or lifestyle drugs but other medicines like malarials," he said. "These criminals will copy anything to make a buck."

He said China was the number one source of counterfeit drugs last year, followed by Jordan, the United States, Israel and Canada.

Catherine Dauphin, a expert on pharmaceutical policy, told the same forum that more than half the drugs sold on Internet sites without approval from governments were fake.

She said typically lured the public into buying by offering them at cheaper rates and without the need for medical prescriptions.

Explore further: Fake drug sales are increasing on the Internet and turning up in legitimate supply chains

Related Stories

China breaks up fake medicine racket

November 4, 2011

China said Friday it had busted a gang that produced and sold fake medicine -- some made of animal feed -- arresting 114 suspects and seizing more than 65 million counterfeit tablets.

Counterfeit drugs becoming big business worldwide

February 16, 2012

(AP) -- The discovery that a fake version of the widely used cancer medicine Avastin is circulating in the United States is raising new fears that the multibillion-dollar drug-counterfeiting trade is increasingly making ...

Recommended for you

Researchers identify source of opioids' side effects

January 17, 2017

A commercially available drug may help drastically reduce two side effects of opioid painkillers—a growing tolerance and a paradoxical increased sensitivity to pain—without affecting the drugs' ability to reduce pain, ...

CVS generic competitor to EpiPen, sold at a 6th the price

January 12, 2017

CVS is now selling a rival, generic version of Mylan's EpiPen at about a sixth of its price, just months after the maker of the life-saving allergy treatment was eviscerated before Congress because of its soaring cost to ...

Many misuse OTC sleep aids: survey

December 29, 2016

(HealthDay)—People struggling with insomnia often turn to non-prescription sleep remedies that may be habit-forming and are only intended for short-term use, according to a new Consumer Reports survey.

The pill won't kill your sexual desire, researchers say

December 15, 2016

Taking the pill doesn't lower your sexual desire, contrary to popular belief, according to research published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. The authors of the research, from the University of Kentucky and Indiana University ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.