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International Groups Move to Criminalize Fake Drugs: Scientific American

When police officers, scientists and doctors launched an investigation into the scourge of counterfeit medicines in South East Asia, they were shocked to find that nearly half of the anti-malarials that they seized were fakes. Even more alarming was the discovery that many of the blister packs presumed to contain life-saving tablets were tainted with safrole, a carcinogenic compound used to make the illicit party drug ecstasy.

The presence of safrole underscored the link between bogus pharmaceuticals and criminal syndicates, which flourish in a legal grey zone that rewards counterfeiters with high profits at low risk.

"For a criminal interested in making money, it's less dangerous to traffic in counterfeits than to traffic in illegal drugs," says Susanne Keitel, director of the European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines and HealthCare (EDQM) in Strasbourg, France. That is because, although counterfeits endanger patients, diminish public faith in essential care and hamper economic growth, their deliberate manufacture is classified not as criminal activity, but as patent infringement.

That may now change, as cross-border collaborations try to criminalize counterfeit drugs and coordinate global enforcement. Public-health authorities welcome the development, but say that years of inattention have turned the problem into a crisis.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 01:22:50 PM EST
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