More $$$ in Counterfeiting than Heroin

20 09 2010

I came across an article today that was posted a few days ago from USAToday. The article called “Growing Problem of Fake Drugs Hurting Patients, Companies.”

“You can make more money in counterfeit drugs than heroin,” says Tom Kubic, CEO of Pharmaceutical Security Institute (PSI). “There’s a major financial incentive for criminals because of the low risk of detection and prosecution.”

From all of my research on this subject. I have come to the same conclusion. Everyone wants/needs medicines. Half of the time people do not even realize they are counterfeits. Some people may realize the risk, but go ahead anyways because that risk outweighs their health and money status.

There are so many things wrong with counterfeits it is amazing. Different people and sectors are hurt from this problem; property rights are infringed upon, medicine companies lose profits, patients’ health worsen, jobs are lost, gangs get more “funding”, etc.  Since 2004, counterfeit drug incidents have tripled! 1,700 incidents were reported world-wide last year. PSI estimates the size of counterfeit drug market range from $75 billion to $ 200 billion a year. Honestly, this number is bigger due to the lack of detection.

Scott Davis, a senior regional director in U.S. drug giant Pfizer‘s global security division, believes the “lack of education and awareness of the dangers,” is what drives consumers to purchase counterfeit medicines. Counterfeits have been around for years and have become harder to detect. About 50% of medicines purchased from online retailers have found to be fake says the WHO (World Health Organization). Bryan Liang, a professor at California Western School of Law in San Diego and a Board Member for the Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) says the “perfect storm” from the popularity of Pfizer’s erectile dysfunction drug, Viagra, in the 1990s fueled the underground economy of selling fake pharmaceuticals.

Counterfeits are a real problem. It is a shame that it is not a more “well-known” public health issue.  Education of this problem would be very beneficial to all. I encourage everyone to read more on this and spread the word and use your education to be a better consumer.

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