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Death on the Net? Over 60% of Medicines Sold by Online Pharmacies are Fake

The in-depth report examining internet pharmacies and life-saving medicines purchased online was presented today by the EAASM at the 4th Global Forum

on Pharmaceutical AntiCounterfeiting(TM) in Washington DC.

WASHINGTON, June 5 /PRNewswire/ -- The European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines (EAASM) has today unveiled its comprehensive research report -- The Counterfeiting Superhighway. The report revealed that a frightening 62% of medicines purchased online are fake or substandard. These include medicines indicated to treat serious conditions such as cardiovascular and respiratory disease, neurological disorders, and mental health conditions.

The rapid growth of illegal online pharmacies means there is a higher risk that fake medicines will reach patients. Untrained, unsuspecting consumers are extremely vulnerable to the potentially lethal outcomes of buying medicines online. The Counterfeiting Superhighway report reveals the scope and repercussions of this growing, dangerous practice through extensive research and examination.

Following in-depth analysis of over one hundred online pharmacies, commonly purchased prescription-only medicines were ordered online(1). All medicines were delivered without requiring the sight of a prescription. This is illegal and presents a serious threat to public health. Expert visual and chemical analysis of the prescription-only medicines purchased online compounded the desk research findings.

* 95.6% of online pharmacies researched are operating illegally.

* 94% of websites do not have a named, verifiable pharmacist.

* Over 90% of websites supply prescription-only medicines without a


* 86% of online 'pharmacy approval' stamps are fake.

The report demonstrates that there is a three in five chance of receiving a fake or substandard medicine when you buy online. Whilst only 38% of the medicines received were found to be genuine branded medicines, 16% of these were illegal non-EU imports (genuine products, imported into the EU illegally from a non-EU country), and 33% did not have patient information leaflets, which in itself is also illegal and potentially dangerous to consumers' health.

Shockingly, on a number of occasions, the life-saving cardiovascular medicine 'Plavix' was supplied with free 'Viagra' (or products purporting to be these medicines). Anyone who is taking medicines for a serious heart condition should be under close medical supervision, especially when taking a cocktail of drugs for other conditions, including erectile dysfunction.

Dr Ian Banks, President, European Men's Health Forum: "I was alarmed to see that a number of the 'medicines' delivered were accompanied by free, unsolicited tablets, provided without any medical assessment. Far from rewarding consumers with 'bonus pills,' this practice shows that these unscrupulous, criminal online drug traders appear wiling to potentially risk the health and well-being of their customers."

Among a number of recommendations the report suggests that popular search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN should remove web pages from search results which advertise counterfeit medicines. This tactic has already proved successful in preventing people accessing child pornography websites so surely similar success can be achieved with combating illegal online pharmacies.

Jim Thomson, EAASM Chair: "The report findings are shocking and the story it tells demands action. Consumers are susceptible to fake medicines which could harm their health, and in extreme cases be deadly. The EAASM calls on all stakeholders including search engines, credit card companies, shipping companies, patient groups and regulators, to take action and halt this dangerous trend."

About the EAASM

The European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines (EAASM) was founded in 2007 and is an independent, cross-sector voice representing European patients' rights to access safe medicines. The Alliance acts to raise awareness of the risks of counterfeit and substandard medicine to patient safety, address the shortcomings of current legislation and enforcement, and campaign for greater protection for European patients. Website:

Notes to editor

The press release only provides some of the horrifying results of the research. The full report is available for download on (currently available in English only).

(1) List of products purchased online

Cardiovascular and respiratory: Lipitor (Pfizer), Plavix (sanofi-

aventis), Seretide (GSK), Coversyl (Servier), Micardis (Boehringer-

Ingelheim), Spiriva (Boehringer-Ingelheim)

Mental Health: Zyprexa (Lilly), Efexor (Wyeth), Risperdal (J&J)

Alzheimer's disease: Aricept (Pfizer), Reminyl (Shire)

Men's health: Cialis (Lilly), Levitra (Bayer-Schering), Viagra

(Pfizer), Propecia (MSD)

Other: Zoton (Wyeth), Reductil (Abbott), Mirapex (Boehringer-Ingelheim

SOURCE The European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines
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