Internet is a major vector of the spread of falsified medical products across the globe. While Interpol is organizing an international conference on the fight against criminal organizations who are increasingly fervent about using new technologies, a range of other means have been implemented to confront the growing presence of counterfeit medical products on the Internet.
Programs, actions & initiatives
The simultaneous explosion in the 2000s of e-commerce and counterfeit medical products is not a coincidence.
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Economically developed countries tend to believe that only "social" or "comfort" drugs ared counterfeited. Reality is quite different. Far from being limited to a single category, counterfeiting extends to all types of drugs. The fact that they are considered vital or subject to mandatory prescription is of little importance to criminals, who only see a highly profitable business opportunity.
Medicines are not like other products. The standard notion of "counterfeit" focuses on the infringement of intellectual and/or industrial property, ignoring the public health consequences of falsified medicines. Indeed, counterfeit medicines do not represent the same stakes as other consumer products. It is the health and often the lives of users that is endangered.
Counterfeit medical products constitute a lucrative trade in full expansion that concerns 10% of the world medical market according to the WHO. Though it is more profitable than the illegal drug trade, counterfeiters risk much lighter sentences, even though legislation does exist to punish them. A notable exception would be certain African countries where there is an utter legal void in terms of counterfeit products.
At the start of the 2000s, the WHO analyzed seizures around the world and estimated 60% of counterfeit medical products were destined for developing countries, while 40% were for developed countries.
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