Southwark Crown Court has ordered a man who sold counterfeit medicines online to pay £14.4m in fines. As reported by the BBC, the man, who lived in Manchester, was sentenced to two years in jail after a six-year investigation by the Medicines and Heathcare products Regulatory Agency (MRHA) and the North West Regional Asset Recovery Team revealed the scale of his operation, funding a lavish lifestyle involving luxury cars and houses.
Such stories demonstate the huge scale of counterfeit pharmaceutical operations. There is no control over the safety of counterfeit pharmaceuticals which means that many people are putting their health at risk by buying the fake and/or unlicensed items. This recent successful prosecution illustrates how various agencies are working hard to combat the problem but law enforcement freely admits that as soon as one rogue pharmacy is dismantled, another one appears somewhere else.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has warned about the growing problem of counterfeit medicines. In a press release issued last week, the UNODC noted that counterfeit drugs have an estimated value of $1.6bn in Africa and Asia alone. According to the World Health Organisation, three in 10 pharmaceutical products in the combined African, Asian and Latin American markets are fake.
UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov has called for increased attention to be given: “Fraudulent medicines offer organized criminal groups a high-return commodity with relatively low risks, ultimately at the expense of the health of unsuspecting people. These counterfeit goods indiscriminately kill, depriving the poorest of lifesaving medicines and leading to countless deaths.”
IMPACT, the World Customs Organisation (WCO), the Permanent Forum of International Pharmaceutical Crime (PFIPC) and the Heads of Medicines Agencies Working Group of Enforcement Officers (HMA WGEO) (Global)…
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Negotiators from 37 countries Saturday reached a basic agreement on an international treaty to crack down on counterfeit and pirated products at a meeting in Tokyo, the Japanese government has said. The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is designed to create an international framework to halt the distribution of counterfeit brand goods and pirated music and film products…
Radiofrequency identification (RFID) has yet to claim more than a toehold even in established pharmaceutical markets, but a partnership of technology companies is planning to make it part of the everyday supply chain in Africa…
A new report for the British Journal of Criminology, co-written by a Home Office Advisor, claims not and that counterfeiting could actually be beneficial to top designer labels by promoting their brands. This view seems slightly irresponsible taking the consequences of counterfeiting (lost tax revenue, funding of organised crime etc) into consideration and is not supported by the leading designer brands; as reported on www.styleite.com, a spokesman for Louis Vuitton said: ‘The sale of counterfeit goods is a serious offence whose revenue funds criminal organisations at the expense of consumers, companies and governments.’
The report concludes that it should be the responsibility of industry rather than police to fight the counterfeiters and that resources should be concentrated on other more dangerous counterfeits such as medicines and aircraft parts.
An international operation, co-ordinated by INTERPOL and involving police, customs and drug regulatory authorities across East Africa has resulted in the seizure of at least 10 tons of counterfeit and illicit medical products and more than 80 arrests. This was part of a continued operation aiming to curb the increasing problem of the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit medical products in this region.
As reported on the INTERPOL website, Aline Plancon, head of INTERPOL’s Medical Products Counterfeiting and Pharmaceutical Crime (MPCPC) highlights the need for better collaboration between organisations and the effective management of investigations and information in the fight against this crime, she recommends ‘the development of a more systematic exchange of information to pool expertise, experience, resources, intelligence and technical support’.