Thursday, February 05, 2009

Yikes! 30K Fake Drugs Dispensed in UK

This week, the BBC reported (in Thousands 'have taken fake drugs') that more than 30,000 packs of counterfeit drugs were dispensed by retail pharmacies in Britain in 2007. Even worse than swallowing a rat that you bought online!

Apparently, the Medicines Health Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) issued four emergency drugs recall notices in June 2007. Almost half of a batch of 70,000 fake drugs are still unaccounted for.

You won’t be surprised to learn that the fakes were parallel imports. A former industry investigator is quoted as saying: "All three medicines would have pretended to be medicines that were destined for other European markets..."

I often criticize parallel trade in the EU because it is (by definition) diversion, i.e., the sale of a drug outside of the distribution channels for which it was originally intended. Although many (most?) parallel trade products may be legit, it’s logical to me that any type of diversion will open up gateways for counterfeits.

So, "Where are the bodies?" That is, where is the unpleasant evidence that counterfeit drugs entered a supply chain?

As the BBC dryly notes in How fake drugs got into the NHS: "The fate of his potential British victims may never be known because no-one knows who took the drugs, and because of that, no-one knows whether anyone died as a result or what effect it has had on people’s treatment."


Bye bye, Tom Daschle! Gosh, I was kinda looking forward to complaining about your support of drug importation, especially with a re-launch of the Friday the 13th franchise on the way.

Was he treated fairly for accepting money from the industry that he would be regulating? As one average American opined: "It's still not as bad as the $400,000 that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has received from the geyser and hot springs lobby." (source)


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  1. Adam,

    I'll be the first to say, having Daschle not around is a good thing.

  2. June 2007... talk about old news. You've also already alluded to this event in your post about that rat commercial. If the problem is so endemic, why is the only example nearly 2 years old?

  3. While the recall is old, the "news" is how many packs were dispensed to patients. Plus, the BBC nicely summarizes the challenges of getting evidence (one way or another) regarding the health impact of PI products.


  4. Adam,

    Several years back when Eckerds was still around they purchased a truckload of counterfeit birth control tablets which were supposed to be Demulen. It has happened here and still is happening. There is a wholesaler in Louisanna who is campaigning for a pedigree program and could probably give you some good info on this problem

  5. There is a wholesaler in Louisanna who is campaigning for a pedigree program and could probably give you some good info on this problem. What's the name of the wholesaler? Have not heard too many campaigning.

  6. Anyone hear about the recall on Metoprolol? Not much press on this one.

  7. Adam,

    Here is the site of LA. wholesaler and what they are trying do about establishing a pedigree program for USA pharmaceutical industry. They are out in front on this one. It is a big problem in the USA and internet. You never know what cheap will get you even with the big boys