There was a recent article on MarketWatch that caught my eye because it really broke down the issue of counterfeiting and the dangers that rogue online pharmacy sites pose to patient health and safety. One quote in the article was particularly shocking - "Fake drugs are behind an estimated 700,000 deaths from malaria and tuberculosis," according to a report from the International Policy Network.
Unfortunately, millions of patients living in foreign countries - especially countries in Southeast Asia and Africa - with weak regulatory systems are the most vulnerable to the global counterfeit medicine epidemic.
While no country is immune from the counterfeit drug epidemic, the U.S., for the most part, has been shielded from it because of our closed drug supply system. Check out this fascinating video featuring John Clark, Pfizer's global security expert, explaining why our closed system and government enforcement actions help protect us from this global counterfeit threat.
However, American consumers should know that incidents of counterfeit drugs seeping into our closed system are rising because of illegal pharmacy sites. In a public letter, PhRMA President and CEO John J. Castellani wrote that, "Criminal networks around the world have become increasingly sophisticated and are taking advantage of millions of patients around the globe by selling cheap counterfeit drugs on Internet sites, many of which masquerade as legitimate pharmacies and display a Canadian flag. These rogue sites serve as a clearinghouse of unapproved and dangerous counterfeit drugs that unsuspecting consumers can buy without a valid prescription.
John also commended the Administration for its increased attention to the worldwide counterfeit medicine threat. A recent report by the Counterfeit Pharmaceutical Inter-Agency Working Group to Vice President Biden and Congress outlined steps that have been taken by the government to help safeguard the closed U.S. drug supply, some of which we have been very supportive of.