Counterfeit prescription drugs have become an exploding industry, with an estimated market value of $75 billion a year worldwide. In the developing world, few countries have strong regulatory and policing power, and unscrupulous criminals are taking full advantage of easy internet sales, global supply routes, and minimal punishments.
Recently, our partner, The Partnership for Safe Medicines, developed the “A Dangerous Threat for American Patients Fact Pack” as part of a “Required Reading List for Policy Makers on Counterfeit Drugs”, and acknowledged CSIP as an “organization concerned with safe medicine.”
Below are some statistics from the Fact Pack and from other sources to describe the extent of the counterfeit drug problem:
- The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that between 1% and 10% of drugs sold around the world are counterfeits, up to as many as 50% in some countries;
- A report published by the Stimson Center cited a 90% increase in counterfeit drug sales between 2005 and 2010;
- The impact of the counterfeit drug trade on human lives is unimaginable: the International Policy Network estimates that 700,000 people die per year because of counterfeit malaria and tuberculosis medicines alone;
- An estimated 80% of counterfeit drugs come from overseas, and most of them are manufactured in India and China;
- Investigators have found fake versions of medications made with heavy metals, poison, household materials, antifreeze, and with inappropriate and sometimes dangerous medications;
- Viagra is widely described as one of the most counterfeited drugs in the world.
The most common path that counterfeiters take to reach Americans is through fake online pharmacies that sell directly to consumers online. To make consumers more aware, CSIP, its members, and its partner organizations, including the Partnership for Safe Medicines, are doing our part to offer educational resources for consumers and policy makers aimed at raising public awareness about the potentially life-threatening problems associated with illicit online pharmacies.
The Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP) and our 13 member companies have the shared goal of helping address the growing problem of consumer access to illegitimate pharmaceutical products on the Internet. Continue to read this blog for updates on CSIP’s education, enforcement and information-sharing efforts.