Austria says counterfeit seizures spike in 2016

Austrian customs says seizures of counterfeit items hit a new high last year, with a dramatic increase in the number of falsified medicines intercepted.

The Austrian Federal Ministry of Finance's 2016 Product Piracy Report (in German) records 1,947 seizures – comprising 67,535 counterfeit items worth an estimated €2.7m. Of these, 900 seizures involved fake medicines, with more than 53,000 items - worth around €1m - prevented from reaching consumers, up from just over 17,000 the previous year.

"Never before have so many counterfeit medicines been seized by customs authorities acting under the EU Product Piracy Regulation 2014," said the Ministry in a statement. Gerhard Marosi, who heads up its unit combating product piracy, added that the counterfeits "present a huge threat to public health and safety."

Lifestyle products headed the list, with the proportion of erectile dysfunction products higher compared with previous years. Diet pills and hair growth preparations are still being seized, but to a lesser degree, says the report.

Whereas previously, mainly luxury articles were faked, it is now the case that a whole variety of counterfeit mass consumer goods are being offered. Well-organized criminal associations are introducing an ever-increasing number of counterfeit branded goods onto the European and Austrian market, it concludes.

"Combating product piracy means greater fiscal justice, and is essential in order to ensure fair competition," said Marosi. "Securing Austria as a strong economic base also benefits taxpayers."

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