April 10, 2014

Ominous Forecast for Drug Counterfeiters

Cross-posted from the IP Delivers Blog

Efforts to rid the world of fake medicines are one of the most heroic works of IP enforcement.  Countries around the world are taking significant steps to disrupt networks and black markets selling the most dangerous fakes. Counterfeit medicines not only pose serious—and sometimes fatal—health risks to patients, but they undermine public health overall.

The need for enforcement efforts against this trade requires resources as it has, by some accounts, become more lucrative than dealing hard drugs.  Recognizing the need to take action in China, the Economic Crime Investigation Department of China’s Ministry of Public Security launched Operation Cloud. Mobilizing police officers in different provinces around China, the operation sought to crackdown on the manufacturing and distribution of counterfeit medicines as well as remove websites which sell the illicit goods.

The success of the operation is impressive and mirrors how vast the problem is, with efforts alone in China resulting in: 1,300 criminal arrests and 300 million fake medicines seized, valued at 2.2 billion RMB ($350 million). And the counterfeits seized had a whole litany of problems – from forged trademarks to faulty packaging to altogether falsified medicines – putting the consumer in serious danger.

Other governments around the globe have initiated similar efforts. Last November, the U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement joined forces with ten foreign law enforcement agencies abroad to shut down websites selling counterfeit goods on cyber Monday.  In Angola, government officials recently acted to intercept 1.4 million doses of an anti-malarial drug before it entered the African market.

We applaud both China’s Operation Cloud and each of the governments who have championed programs to halt production and distribution of illicit medicines and encourage other governments to follow suit. The problem is too widespread and the consequences too dire for governments to ignore.

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