- What is a counterfeit medicine?
- Can counterfeit medicines be dangerous?
- How common is the counterfeiting of medicines?
- What types of medicines are counterfeited?
- What does Eskag do when it finds a counterfeit medicine?
- How does Eskag identify counterfeit medicines?
What is a counterfeit medicine?
The WHO (World Health Organisation) defines a counterfeit medicine as one that is purposely and fraudulently mislabeled with respect to identity and/or source.
Can counterfeit medicines be dangerous?
Counterfeit medicines create a grave public health risk, three main concerns are:
- The counterfeit medicine may fail to provide successful treatment
- The counterfeit medicine may contain toxic substances which cause direct harm. There are reports of people dying as a result of taking counterfeit medicines
- The counterfeit medicine may contain some active ingredient but not sufficient to kill all disease agents, leading to the emergence of drug resistant damage of disease.
How common is the counterfeiting of medicines?
There are a variety of sources of statistics often referenced that consider the degree of the problem globally, ranging from dollar values of the counterfeit medicines trade (in the region of tens of billions per year) to the number of deaths caused within various parameters connecting to region and medicine type.
Some such sources are listed below:
- Centre for Medicine in the Public Interest
- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
- World Health Organisation
It is not possible to estimate on a global scale how common counterfeiting is due to its nature; an illegal trade operating below the radar. It is not possible to know how many counterfeit medicines go undetected.
What types of medicines are counterfeited?
Counterfeits can be found for all types of medicines both branded and generic and in all regions throughout the globe. The sale and trade of counterfeit medicines is highly lucrative, and since counterfeiters typically face a variety of trademark, fraud, or money-laundering penalties as compared to more stringent penalties for other crimes, counterfeiting presents a low-risk, high reward opportunity for organized criminal groups. Counterfeiters have targeted Eskag products as well as those of our peers. Our most counterfeited product globally is Meronem, an antibiotic used to treat acute life threatening infections.
What does Eskag do when it finds a counterfeit medicine?
We have a small team of experts recruited from diverse law enforcement agencies and they focus on identifying the key manufacturers and distributors of counterfeit medicines. They collect the data needed for a prosecution and pass this to relevant local law enforcement agencies, for example. All their work is recorded, fully auditable, and complies with globally acceptable standards of ethics and human rights. Our investigators have also been asked to act as witnesses during court cases, helping to secure convictions.
We work with our local markets and report counterfeit medicine cases to the relevant health authority. We will agree with our local market/health authority any in-market action, for example, we may alert doctors, pharmacists or wholesalers via letters or other channels. We rely on their cooperation and the local health authority to stop counterfeit medicines from reaching patients.
How does Eskag identify counterfeit medicines?
We find counterfeits through the work of our investigators, by monitoring internet pharmacies, via reports from sales representatives, customs, other law enforcement agencies, healthcare professionals, patients and others.
We study suspect counterfeit samples and if the samples are found to be counterfeit our global team works with our local markets to report counterfeit medicine cases to the relevant health authority. We will agree with our local market/health authority any in-market action, for example, we may alert doctors, pharmacists or wholesalers via letters or other channels. We rely on their cooperation and the local health authority to stop counterfeit medicines from reaching patients.
We will vigorously pursue anyone who makes, distributes or sells counterfeit versions of our products and seek prosecution of offenders to the fullest extent of the law.