Counterfeiting Deserves ‘Condom’nation


By Ashley Mergen

Faking… can always be a sensitive subject. But this type of boudoir fakery is downright dangerous. Last week, Chinese authorities arrested 37 individuals for masterminding and running a massive condom counterfeiting ring from the rural province of Fujian. Police confiscated Some 4.65 million fake condoms destined for online retailers and international clientele.

Workers were reportedly churning out 20,000 generic condoms per day and falsely labeling the substandard products with the trademarks and packaging of trusted industry leaders, like Durex, Contex, and Jissbon.

Unfortunately, according to digital news outlet Quartz, this is nothing new:

In 2010, Chinese authorities seized 2 million unsterilized condoms from a factory in Henan. They confiscated a bevy of condoms lubricated with vegetable oil in 2009. And in 2008, US authorities discovered that China had exported more than one million fake Trojan condoms to the US. 

You don’t need much of an imagination to understand the implications to consumer health. Counterfeiters are abusing the intellectual property (IP) of legitimate brands to undermine the ability for people to make informed and safe decisions regarding their personal health. These illicit entrepreneurs are also exposing populations to unwanted or high-risk pregnancies and perpetuate the spread of countless diseases, which are problems that are contributing to epidemics in some developing countries.

Just last month, the Ghanaian equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discovered 1 million faulty condoms shipped from China and dispersed to the public. In an interview with The Guardian, Thomas Amedzro, head of drug enforcement at the FDA, suggested that this type of counterfeiting is a ‘major public health issue’ and facilitates the spread of HIV and AIDS:

When we tested these condoms, we found that they are poor quality, can burst in the course of sexual activity, and have holes which expose the users to unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.”

But this story is only just the tip of the iceberg of what is becoming an alarming global trend in dangerous fakes. From fake toothpaste that causes gastroenteritis to bogus batteries  that overheat and explode to black market cancer medicines that are more like poison, counterfeiters are willing to go anywhere and to any lengths to make a cheap buck.

Even in the days leading up to last week’s condom caper, Chinese officials managed to also shut down a fake sanitary napkin ring, which could likely include unsterilized plastics or products contaminated with viruses, according to an interview with Dr. Richard Saint Cyr.

As we know all too well, there is no spot in the marketplace for these types of fakes which diminish respected brands and deceive consumers at sometimes great personal expense. The U.S. Chamber’s Global Intellectual Property Center is dedicated to protecting and promoting the good actors in the global economy. To learn more about the fight against counterfeiting and how to protect innovation and safety, visit

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