Numerous drugs counterfeited Many risks especially with online orders
In recent years, cases have repeatedly been exposed in which criminals made huge profits from counterfeit medicines. The danger of receiving a wrongly dosed, ineffective or dangerous remedy is, above all, great when one orders remedies on the net. Experts warn that this can endanger his health.
Lucrative business and enormous health risk
Again and again the danger of fake medicines is reported. Even some generic studies have been faked. As a result, many imitator drugs in Germany recently had to be withdrawn from the market. Whether it's ampoules for manipulated content cancer patients, pills with insufficient active ingredients, or contaminated powder, it's a lucrative business for criminals, but a huge health risk for consumers and patients. According to the dpa news agency, trafficking in illegal medicines, according to pharmacists, is becoming a growing problem.
Experts complain that everything is stretched and faked, which promises profit. So in particular lifestyle medications such as slimming, hair growth or sexual enhancement, but also high-priced medicines for cancer, heart disease, hepatitis or diabetes. At present, an international pharmacy congress with 3,000 participants from 100 countries deals with the problem.
Ten dead by fake blood thinners
Internet shipping, which works across borders and globally, is the main gateway for counterfeit medicines. "Therefore, the fight against counterfeit drugs is an international task," said Friedemann Schmidt, President of the host association of German pharmacists (ABDA) to the dpa. "The problem is that the counterfeits are getting better and worse and are becoming less recognizable." Sometimes counterfeits contain no or too little active ingredient, then the disease remains completely or inadequately treated. Other remedies contain harmful substances. Professor Manfred Schubert-Zsilavecz, an expert in pharmaceutical chemistry, said that a distinction had to be made between the legal distribution chain with pharmaceutical wholesalers and pharmacies and the illegal providers of dubious Internet sources.
"If, for example, a counterfeit drug for cancer treatment is given by a pharmacy to a clinic that actually contains no active ingredient, that would of course be a disaster," said the expert. "The cancer could continue to develop. In the US, such things have already happened. "There were at least ten people died as a result of fake heparin - which should prevent thrombosis or embolism after a few operations, reported Schubert -Zsilavecz. In this country, he was aware of no case in which a patient would have been seriously harmed by a fake agent from the legal distribution chain. He advises: "The patient should rely on the proven structures: The doctor prescribed, the pharmacist gives." If you order online on your own, the risk of becoming a victim of crime and health damage, "huge".
Counterfeits also in the pharmacy
ABDA President Schmidt said: "We are seeing increasing attempts to inject counterfeit medicines into the legal distribution chain." For example, some counterfeits of the stomach remedy omeprazole were found in wholesalers and pharmacies. Also, the customs encounters more often fake medicines. "Taking these medicines can be a danger to life and limb," says the Federal Criminal Police Office. Just a few days ago, around 3.5 million tablets from India - fake Viagra and dangerous sleeping pills - had been seized in North Rhine-Westphalia. And in April, it was initially warned that a counterfeit cancer drug (Herceptin) is in circulation and shortly thereafter, a recall for the fake drug Remicade was started. Both cases were due to scams in Italy.
"Making distribution channels and pharmaceutical packaging safer"
However, supposed discretion and price advantages on the Internet are obviously important buying arguments for many consumers. Anonymity in the network, difficult-to-understand delivery routes and longer distribution chains make it easier for the counterfeiters to do their job. "We are concerned that drug counterfeiting has become a lucrative business for criminal organizations due to price structures in Europe," said Professor Karl Broich, President of the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices. "We need to make distribution channels and drug packaging safer, to make counterfeiting more difficult."
According to experts, a reputable mail-order pharmacy offers medication only for prescription. In addition, those who want to order a drug online, via the register Dimdi (www.dimdi.de) check whether the provider is legitimate and approved for Internet trading. All EU countries keep such lists. ABDA boss Schmidt also referred to the securPharm project: According to this, all medication packages should receive a counterfeit-proof barcode. "Once implemented, we can track each individual drug package through an individual identifier from manufacture to delivery." (Ad)