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On the Twelfth Day of the Holidays a Counterfeiter Gave to Meee…
Twelve Dangerous Drugs
Eleven Pretend Purses
Ten Phony Phone Chargers
Nine Botched Baby Carriers
Eight Bogus Batteries
Seven Spurious Software
Six Imitation Intimates
Four Angry Birds
Three Bars of Soap
Two Video Games
and an Airbag in My Minivan
We’ve finally counted down to the ultimate of dangerous fakes in our ‘12 Days of Counterfeits.’ From botnets to botched baby carriers, each of these fakes presents unique, but very real threats to public safety. But we’ve saved our last day for the most dangerous of them all: counterfeit medicines.
Ok, so maybe you’re not expecting prescriptions as your stocking stuffer, but you’re very likely to take some medications to stem off the germs that are being passed around between all of the airplane rides, hugs and kisses, and handshakes.
The over-the-counter and prescription medicines that treat anything from the common cold to cancer go through extensive research and development, testing, and investment in order to meet rigorous health and safety standards. The same cannot be said for those who fake these very medicines.
Unfortunately, there is currently an epidemic of counterfeit treatments making it from the dirty shops of criminals to our medicine cabinets and eventually our bodies. These fakes oftentimes do not have the necessary amount- if any- of key ingredients and could even be made of entirely toxic substances. As one CNBC report found:
“The dangers of counterfeit drugs are two-fold. First, counterfeit drugs may contain an incorrect amount of active ingredient or no active ingredient at all. The public health risk for this type of counterfeit drug is significant, since users of these medications intend to treat an illness or a disease. By using counterfeit medicines, they may be going untreated. This can result in treatment failure, increased resistance to treatment, and even death, according to the WHO.
Some counterfeits have little or no active pharmaceutical substance — many contain innocuous ingredients, although nothing an inpidual would want to ingest when expecting medication. These ingredients have included chalk, flour, vitamins, talcum powder, or sugar, which, when taken with the expectation of having a pharmacological effect, can be fatal.
On the other hand, many more noxious ingredients have been found in counterfeit drugs. INTERPOL reports that rat poison has been found in fake medicines, while Patrick Ford, Pfizer’s head of global security for the Americas region, says substances such as floor wax have been found in seized counterfeit products. The FDA has reported cases in which consumers ingested tablets they believed to be Ambien or Xanax that, in reality, were counterfeit. These pills contained the anti-psychotic haloperidol; ingesting them resulted in the need for hospitalization.”
So where are we finding these dangerous fakes? While they are certainly available in the brick-and-mortar world, illegitimate online pharmacies seem to be a major purveyor of counterfeit medications. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacies found that 97% of online pharmacies “operate out of compliance with U.S. pharmacy laws,” meaning that they are responsible for the sale of drugs without requiring prescriptions all while offering potentially deadly counterfeits.
Did you know the problem was that bad? Neither did these folks in Times Square:
As we spend time with our friends and family and inevitably spread peace, joy, and germs, be mindful of the packaging and sources of your remedies to winter ailments.
For more information on our ’12 Days of Counterfeiting’ series, please visit www.DangerousFakes.com.
Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) @globalIPcenter 11h
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