Fake drugs labelled as Chinese tea: France in record haul (Update)

April 10, 2014

Aspirin, anti-diarrhoea and erectile dysfunction drugs: French customs have seized millions of counterfeit medicines imported from China in what they described as the biggest haul of its kind within the European Union.

A total of 2.4 million pills, capsules and powdered medicine were seized at the end of February in the northern port of Le Havre in 601 boxes labelled as containing Chinese tea, customs officials said Thursday.

"Some of the drugs contain no active ingredient, which constitutes outright cheating of consumers," said a customs statement.

"Others have different levels of the active ingredient compared to the authentic drug which means they could represent a serious health risk for patients taking them."

According to French customs, the previous record seizure in the EU was for 1.2 million doses of counterfeit aspirin, also made at Le Havre in Normandy, in May 2013.

Like the seizure this year, the powdered aspirin was mainly composed of glucose.

Le Havre is a huge commercial port in France through which nearly 2.5 million containers transit annually.

Every year, customs seize tens of thousands of counterfeit products that include television sets, mobile phones, auto parts, clothes and medicine, most of which come from China en route to African countries such as Nigeria.

Last year, counterfeit drugs represented nearly 20 percent of all seized products, and consisted mainly of fake pills of Viagra and Cialis for erectile dysfunction, as well as aspirin.

The problem of counterfeit drug production in China was highlighted last year when the country's authorities launched a crackdown which led to 1,300 arrests in December and the closure of dozens of unauthorised online pharmacies.

According to the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, a US non-profit medical research group, the traffic in fake medicine is highly lucrative, generating 55 billion euros ($76 billion) globally in 2010, a 90-percent rise from 2005.

In Europe, meanwhile, a study conducted by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer in 2010 showed that the market for fake drugs was worth around 10.5 billion euros, including one billion euros in France.

And according to the European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines, 62 percent of drugs bought on the Internet in 2011 were fake.

Explore further: Czechs report record fake erectile pills seizure

Related Stories

Czechs report record fake erectile pills seizure

September 24, 2013
Customs officials in the Czech Republic say they have seized almost 200,000 fake erectile dysfunction pills.

Illegal medications seized in 16 African countries

October 25, 2012
An unprecedented crackdown in 16 African countries netted 82 million doses of illegal or counterfeit drugs, including antibiotics, contraceptives and malaria treatments, the World Customs Organisation (WCO) said on Thursday.

US-EU fraud crackdown seizes 328 websites

June 26, 2013
A total of 328 website domains accused of selling counterfeit goods were seized by US and European authorities in the latest crackdown on online fraud, officials said Wednesday.

Recommended for you

Cancer drugs' high prices not justified by cost of development, study contends

September 12, 2017
(HealthDay)— Excusing the sky-high price tags of many new cancer treatments, pharmaceutical companies often blame high research and development (R&D) costs.

Non-psychotropic cannabinoids show promise for pain relief

September 4, 2017
Some cancers love bone. They thrive in its nutrient-rich environment while gnawing away at the very substrate that sustains them, all the while releasing inflammatory substances that cause pain—pain so severe that opioids ...

Fentanyl drives rise in opioid-linked deaths in U.S.

August 31, 2017
(HealthDay)—Fentanyl, a synthetic narcotic, is a key player in America's continuing epidemic of opioid-related overdose deaths, two new studies report.

Eating triggers endorphin release in the brain

August 28, 2017
Finnish researchers have revealed how eating stimulates brain's endogenous opioid system to signal pleasure and satiety.

Cholesterol-lowering drugs may fight infectious disease

August 21, 2017
That statin you've been taking to lower your risk of heart attack or stroke may one day pull double duty, providing protection against a whole host of infectious diseases, including typhoid fever, chlamydia, and malaria.

Data revealed under FOI shows benefits of multiple sclerosis drug currently blocked by regulators

August 17, 2017
A drug that is blocked by the EU regulatory system has now been found to improve the quality of life of people with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).

0 comments

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.