Counterfeit Drugs, Real Money, Real Health Risks

November 22, 2009 |

Where there is real money to be made regardless of the legalities, organized crime is always there in advance, having sniffed the stench of dirty money and taken early advantage of the opportunity. Now you may think that the explosion of medication vendors on the internet is a boon for organized crime, but you would only be half right. Counterfeit medications have long been a source of illegal income and the import of pharmaceuticals from overseas has made it even easier for criminals to make and sell the fakes.

How Much Money Is Being Made With Counterfeit Drugs

buying fake medications

According to the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, it is expected that sales of counterfeit drugs will have reached $75 billion US by 2010. While this is small in comparison to the estimated $320 billion US in worldwide illegal drug sales as of 2003, it is still a considerable amount of money. As well, unlike the illegal drug trade in which “quality” of product is important for retaining customers, in the counterfeit drug trade, the effectiveness of the drug is hardly important at all.

Which Medications Are Most Commonly Counterfeited?

With no requirements on quality or on safety, any drugs that are popular with good prices and sales will be counterfeited. This means that the little blue pill, Viagra, is a popular counterfeit target as are its competitors Levitra and Cialis. In fact, as of 2007, fake Viagra was responsible for a 24% increase in the number of counterfeit drug seizures. Seizures of Viagra counterfeits occur regularly with 9,000 pills seized in Sweden, 21,600 pills seized in Miami, 160,000 pills seized in Spain, and some portion of 15,000 pills seized in Montreal all within 2009.

These are by no means the only popular medications to be counterfeited or sold illegally, either. Tamiflu and Relenza, antiviral drugs used in infections such as those occurring with the current H1N1 outbreak, are produced and sold illegally. As well, medications for treating malaria, HIV and tuberculosis have all been counterfeited.

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Category: General Health, Health Risks, Healthcare Politics

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