The World Health Organisation (WHO) define “A counterfeit medicine as one which is deliberately and fraudulently mislabeled with respect to identity and/ or source. Counterfeiting of medicines can apply to both branded and generic products. Generally, counterfeit products may include products without the correct ingredients or with the wrong ingredients, without active ingredients, with incorrect quantities of active ingredients or with fake packaging”
Counterfeiting is a huge problem for the pharmaceutical industry which spends in excess of $1billion per year in anti-counterfeiting technologies and this is growing at 15% CAGR. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that, in 2012, in excess of $200 billion of counterfeit drugs were sold worldwide on the black market, over the internet and even unknowingly through legitimate suppliers.
Many individuals don’t even realize what they are purchasing when they buy counterfeit goods through the internet simply believing that if a product has the same name it cant deviate in ingredients or chemical makeup. The sad reality for many is that they do. All too often there are articles in the media of people loosing sight as a result of purchasing counterfeit contact lenses, patients going into kidney, liver and renal failure as a result of incorrect ingredients in medications.
Counterfeit drugs can kill and there are numerous documented cases. The contamination of heparin by Chinese counterfeiters in 2008 killed 149 patients in the USA. The WHO estimates that as much as 15%-20% of the total drugs market is counterfeit.