Counterfeit condoms on the rise in UK

Condom in jeans pocketCounterfeit condoms are being imported into the UK at an alarming rate, according to the country's medicines regulatory authority.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulation Agency (MHRA) has highlighted various cases in which counterfeit contraceptives have been discovered in recent years, but now says the problem appears to be escalating.

The MHRA highlighted the problem in an interview with the BBC's Newsbeat programme, in which the agency's senior investigator Danny Lee-Frost suggesting that millions of counterfeits have been imported into the UK in the last 18 months.

Using fake condoms puts the public at risk of unwanted pregnancies and sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) according to the agency, which notes they are unlikely to be manufactured to the appropriate British or European standards.

A spokesman for the MHRA told that counterfeit contraceptives also featured among the items seized during last year's Pangea V operation, which netted medicines sand other health products valued at around $10.5m.

A number of cases - including seizures in London, Essex and Birmingham in the last few years - have involved Durex brand condoms manufactured by SSL International, with some of the fakes carrying batch numbers that matched those on genuine products. Other incidents have involved products not approved for sale in the UK, including Kamagra brand condoms.

Last August £1.5m-worth of counterfeit condoms were seized at London Heathrow airport, while a raid on a premises in London in November uncovered around 2,000 knock-offs of Durex Pleasuremax, Fetherlite, Fetherlite Elite, Performa and Extra Safe condoms. The MHRA and other UK enforcement agencies are now using trained sniffer dogs to help intercept the illegal copies.

Meanwhile, other countries have reported similar cases involving counterfeit condoms in recent weeks. The Ministry of Health in Israel reported that fake Durex condoms were discovered circulating in the marketplace last October, while seizures were also reported in Tanzania as 2012 drew to a close.

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