Fight The Fakes

Speak up about fake medicines.

Stories from the Front Line

Pharmacists in the fight against fake medicines? It’s a no brainer!

Catherine Mak |

Pharmacists in the fight against fake medicines? It’s a no brainer!
UCL School of Pharmacy

My name is Catherine Mak and I am a Pre-registration Pharmacist at Leeds Teaching Hospitals, and Leeds South and East Clinical Commissioning Group.

Joining the Fight the Fakes campaign to me is fundamental as a pharmacist and expert in medicines. Where medicines are the most commonly used form of therapy for patients, and pharmacists the community’s information point for medicines advice – being informed of the risks of counterfeit medicines is a no brainer.

I have been involved in Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, a network to improve global access to essential medicines and medical innovations, and studied the supply chain of essential medicines in developing and developed countries – from these experiences I have developed a broader perspective and understanding to the global challenges in access to essential medicines.

In living in the UK, fake medicines in the healthcare system are rare and we are fortunate to have rigorous regulations in place to stop them. Given this, it was a news article that caught my eye: the UK had seized a record haul of counterfeit drugs and then it hit home – the internet opens a gateway to an unregulated market posing a serious threat to those who are unknowing and hoping to get a ‘good deal’. This was the essence of my interest, which led me to research Operation Pangea.

Without the knowledge to identify fraudulent drugs and rogue suppliers, our communities are vulnerable to being deceived, and in the worst case suffer the clinical consequences.

By spreading the word to raise awareness to combat fake medicines, I hope to bring the global issue to a local level and help prevent exacerbating drug resistance, clinical complications and deaths that can result from supply of fake medicines.

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2011: European Customs retained 27.5 million #fakemeds

#Fakemeds can contain no active ingredients at all – a direct threat to patients that need treatment

Up to 30% of medicines in developing countries are #fakemeds

.@UNODC estimates the market value of fake #antimalarials at over US$400mil in west Africa alone

.@INTERPO_HQ L Operation #PangeaVI seized 9.8 million illegal & counterfeit drugs #fakemeds

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1 medicine in 2 purchased on internet sites that conceal their physical address is a #fakemed

36% of #anti-malarial drugs in #SoutheastAsia are #fakemeds

Of the 1mil deaths per year due to #malaria, 200,000 could be avoided if patients weren't treated with #fakemeds

More than 50% of medicine sold worldwide from illegal online sources are #fakemeds

#Fakemeds seized in Le Havre in May 2013 were hidden in sachets of tea

On internet sites that conceal their physical address 50% of the drugs are #fakemeds

20% of all #malaria deaths worldwide can be directly associated with the use of #fakemeds

Decades of fighting #malaria could be put at risk by #fakemeds on the market

Both branded and generic products are subject to counterfeiting

#fakemeds are 10% to 30% of global medicine: less than 1% in some countries, +30% in parts of Africa Asia & Latin America

#DidYouKnow? Possession of #fakemeds is illegal, not just production or sale

Every therapeutic class of pharmaceutical product has been the subject of #counterfeiting

123 countries are impacted by #fakemeds

700,000 people die because of #fakemeds to treat #malaria & #TB each year

Criminals trafficking #fakemeds make profits 10x more than those trafficking illicit drugs

In 2013 US authorities published warning of fake #diabetes meds—ineffective & dangerous for patients

In 2013, Operation #Biyela seized 550 million doses of illicit medicine in #Africa

#Fakemeds seized during #Biyela? Antibiotics, painkillers, meds for high blood pressure & diabetes

In 2013 1.2 million sachets of #fakemeds were seized in Le Havre, France. The biggest seizure in the #EU

60% of all spam offers medicine- its an inexpensive way for #counterfeiters to target you with #fakemeds.

Poisons found in #fakemeds include mercury, rat poison, boric acid, paint & antifreeze

1 out of 4 counterfeit products intercepted by EU customs in 2011 were #fakemeds

#Fakemeds: 32% have no active ingredients, 40% have incorrect ingredients & dose, 8.5% contain dangerous contaminants

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#DidYouKnow? 96% of online pharmacies operate illegally

In the US only 4% of online pharmacies appear to be in compliance with pharmacy laws & practice standards

#fakemeds could be up to 15% of medicines in circulation worldwide

NIH 2012 study of 7 countries in southeast Asia reveals that 36% of #antimalarials are #fakemeds

Up to 40% of the drug supply of some countries in Africa could be #fakemeds

30% of countries have little or no regulation to effectively combat #fakemeds