Threat to Counterfeit Drugs: Study Suggests that the Government is underestimating the possibility

According to a report in the Review of Business & Finance Studies, the threat of Counterfeit drugs have ballooned into a $431 billion market since 2000 and has been affecting nearly two billion people worldwide. Each year, about 100,000 million people worldwide may succumb to these fraudulent medicines. Counterfeit pharmaceuticals sometimes contain chalk, brick dust, paint, and even pesticides. Some of them even contain the remains of human fetuses. Others contain no active ingredients at all.

However, it has been reported that the government has often turned a blind eye towards this issue and has thus, indirectly increased the dangers they pose to unwitting patients. It has been stated that the fact that it is difficult, even for licensed distributors to detect, fake medications, has led to an increase in their marketing in both developed and underdeveloped countries as a consequence of high medical costs, corruption, and weak or nonexistent legislative measures to contain them—and the threat is likely to get worse unless authorities develop “harsher sanctions.

The authors cite figures from the World Health Organization (WHO), showing an estimated 100,000 deaths per year in Africa linked to counterfeit drugs; and from the London-based International Policy Network (IPN), attributing 700,000 fatalities annually to fake malaria and tuberculosis medicines. Counterfeit drugs currently account for approximately 30 percent of the medicines distributed in developing African nations. During a nine-month period in 2012, China exported $1.5 billion worth of medical products to Africa which in some cases had few or no active ingredients at all.

“Given the light penalties and the time lag for regulators or law enforcement to shut down these Internet websites, operators simply take down the website and relocate to another region of the country or perhaps to another country,” Further, it was also reported that another reason for such a drastic increase is due to the fact that the criminal organizations have discovered that there is less risk and penalties associated with counterfeit pharmaceuticals than with human trafficking and illegal drugs. Just 1,300 people worldwide were arrested over the past five years.


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