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Patients Fail to Take Fake Medicines Risk Seriously

DUBLIN, October 26 /PRNewswire/ --

- International Call for Patient Group Task Force to Fight Growing Fake Medicines Trade

Major international research, including the views of bodies that represent more than 121,000 patients across Europe, was unveiled today in Dublin, Ireland - one of the world's biggest net exporters of pharmaceuticals. And a leading health campaigner has called for patient groups across Europe to unite to battle against the growing problem of fake (counterfeit) medicines that are entering the European market. 560,000 fake medicines were seized at the EU's borders in 2005, a 100% increase from 2004 - it appears that there has been a three-fold increase for 2006.

The report 'What should be done about counterfeit medicines' reveals a worrying lack of knowledge among patients and patient organisations into the scale of the counterfeit medicines problem across Europe. 20% of the patient advocacy groups surveyed said that they have received reports of counterfeit medicines from their members (or from the public) and 18% of respondents think counterfeit medicines are a serious problem.

Presenting the findings, Stephen McMahon, chairman of the Irish Patients' Association commented: "The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that up to 10 per cent of all medicines are counterfeits, rising to 25% in some countries. This is a serious issue. We know thousands of men, women and children have died from fake medicines. My grave fear for patients everywhere is that the estimated seizures of medicines are no more than a few hours' production capacity in the US$35 billion a year counterfeit medicine pipeline. Be vigilant, let us all work together to combat this vile trade."

Graham Satchwell, security expert and author of 'A Sick Business: Counterfeit Medicines and Organized Crime' commented at the launch: "Recent seizures of counterfeit medicines are the tip of the iceberg and the increase in counterfeiting and illegal trading across Europe poses a real threat internationally. As one of the world's biggest net exporters of pharmaceuticals worldwide, with 12 of the world's top 25 selling 'blockbuster' drugs manufactured in Ireland the country is strongly positioned to contribute to the fight against counterfeit medicines.

"The international counterfeiting of medicines is a growing threat to manufacturers, distributors, health professionals and pharmacists but most importantly of all to patients who are often trusting and may be exposed to physical danger. Fake medicines may include medicines from untraceable sources, with incorrect or no patient information leaflets, or containing ingredients that are a long way from what the doctor prescribed or the innocent patient believes they are taking."

The survey, which was carried out by Together4Health in association with PatientView, also highlighted that most patient groups (80%) believe that pharmacists should not be able to buy their wholesale medicines from just any supplier, including the internet. This indicates that tighter control over the medicines supply chain is needed.

"We asked 236 executives of patient groups in 34 countries across Europe what they felt should be done to reduce the trade in counterfeit medicines. The responses were varied but telling and, I believe, would help form the basis of a Europe-wide agreement that could be adopted in association with IMPACT(1) partners and implemented at a local level," added Mr Williams.

Notes to editors:

The full survey is available at or email

Together4Health works with patients, primary care trusts, the healthcare industry, employees and employers, bringing together knowledge and understanding across the board. It's a compact hub of shared learning and best practice in marketing, research and communication. We bring together knowledge and skills from right across the healthcare sector - commercial and public - and we have an unparalleled understanding of the needs of the end user.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines counterfeit medicines as those that are: 'deliberately and fraudulently mislabelled with respect to identity and/or source. Counterfeiting can apply to both branded and generic products. Counterfeit products may include products with the correct ingredients or with the wrong ingredients, without active ingredients, with insufficient active ingredients, or with fake packaging.'

(1) International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce

Further information and press enquiries to:

Neil Fullbrook, Cadence Market Strategy, telephone: +44(0)207-847-4037 Email:

SOURCE Together4Health
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