The Counterfeit Drug Trade

Original broadcast date: August 9, 2009

The statistics are compelling and disturbing. An article written by Val Jones on the website Science Based Medicine notes the following:

–    Pfizer Global Security raids resulted in seizure of 11.1 million counterfeit tablets, capsules and vials in 42 countries in 2008. Pfizer seizure of counterfeit drugs in 2008 was up 28.9% over 2007.

–    Within a 7-day period, 250 different Internet-based Viagra purchases were seized in a single mail center. After chemical testing, it was determined that 100% of the tablets were counterfeit.

–    Anti-malarial counterfeit tablets are common in East Asia and Africa, threatening to derail the US goal of decreasing malaria mortality by 50% in 15 countries. Chemical testing in Africa revealed that 20-67% of chloroquine failed content quality checks, and 75-100% of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine tablets (for pregnant women) were not absorbable. Tests conducted in Cambodia in 2003 demonstrated that 27% of anti-malarials were counterfeit with quinine being 77% counterfeit and tetracycline 20% counterfeit.

–    Some “Canadian” mail order pharmaceutical prescriptions have very circuitous routes of manufacture, packaging, and delivery. One batch was manufactured in China transported to Dubai, then to London, then filled in Bahamas, sent to the UK, and then mailed to the US.

The information was presented at The Global Impact of Fake Medicine conference held in Washington DC on June 11, 2009.

Prescription drug counterfeiting is a big business and is growing.

  • Roger Bate, Economist with the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.  Board Member and Director of Africa Fighting Malaria.  Author of “Making a Killing:  The Deadly Implications of the Counterfeit Drug Trade”


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