Falsified Medicines - a 21st Century Criminal Phenomenon

Or is it?  It could be argued that snake oil salesmen in the old Wild West were either pharmaceutical pioneers, or indeed counterfeiters.  Bringing that argument right up-to-date, there are still those who believe that criminals, peddling falsified medicines to an unsuspecting public, ar actually entrepreneurs, creating market access to medicines.

Whilst there have been numerous examples, dating back at least several decades, of falsified medicines entering the supply chain and going on to harm and kill, perhaps the most notable recent development is the evolution of this activity into a global, organised, criminal activity.  Approaching the late 20th Century, falsified medicines were commonly found in the developing world and, with certain classes of medicine, in the developed world.  Fake anti-malarials and anti-biotics generated vast profits on the back of untold misery in Africa and Southeast Asia.  Enterprising criminals managed to infiltrate a porous European supply chain and criminal gangs in the USA "up-labelled" low dosage ant-cancer medications to appear as if they were the much higher (and consequently costlier) high-dose version.  These are just a few examples of what criminals engaged in, but what really kicked this phenomenon into life?

The answer is simple, and you are using it right now.  The internet.  The largest unregulated medicines market on Earth.

As national and regional Governments, Drug Regulatory Authorities and Enforcement Agencies introduce measures to combat criminal infiltration of the regulated supply chain, the counterfeiter is obliged to look alsewhere to protect his substantial profit margins.  The internet is the obvious outlet.

An online search for ANY prescription medicine - with or without prescription - will yield a huge number of search results.  the overwhelming majority will be for illegitimate online pharmacies, peddling falsified versions of the drug.  There is a really easy way to test this theory.  Just open your favourite search engine and enter the following term "buy v".  you will likely get four suggested search results - two for a prescription medicine and two for a controlled medicine.  Complete any of those search terms, and you will be rewarded with millions of suggested websites.

The profits from this criminal activity are immense.  The risks are relatively minimal.  Whilst estimates for the value of the falsified medicines market range from around $100 billion to $250 billion per annum, sentences handed down to convicted criminals remain sufficiently low not to be an effective deterent.

ASOP EU brings together a broad range of concerned stakeholders, determined to increase patient safety online, and it WILL succeed.  However, it will always remain the case that the person best placed to protect the patient, is the patient.

You are the last barrier to harm.  Please use the resources, tips and information on this site to help you make sure that you stay safe online.







News from ASOP EU

New scientific article aims to help simplify fake medicine terminology

4 Apr 2017

A new in depth analysis of the evolution of the descriptions applied to falsified, counterfeit and fake medicines has just been published. It aims to help clarify and simplify this hitherto controversial area. With the number of increasing illegally operating websites selling medicines across the world clear and easy to understand descriptors which will help to make public awareness raising campaigns more effective.

ASOP EU member adopts top level domain name .pharmacy

23 Mar 2017

To help ensure absolute security and recognition of a genuine fully legal online seller of medicines, the web page of the European Association of Mail Service Pharmacies (EAMSP) recently became the first in Europe to switch its Top Level Domain to .pharmacy. 

EAASM and ASOP EU to be present at the 22nd Congress of the European Association Of Hospital Pharmacists 22-24 March 2017.

10 Mar 2017

Mike Isles will be speaking on “Falsified Medicines: The Role of the Pharmacist in Raising Patient Awareness.




ASOP EU Members


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