Bayer calls for greater effort on online fake medicine sales

Online medicine shoppingPharma giant Bayer has issued a call for a coordinated global effort to counter the trade of counterfeit drugs over the Internet.

The firm was one of a number of drugmakers that attended the Counterfeit Medicine Information Forum in Berlin earlier this week, which also involved German Customs, Interpol and representatives of the pharmacy trade.

Richard Bergström, General Director of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), told delegates at the conference that there is a need for "cross-border systems and processes that effectively eliminate forgeries from the pharmaceutical supply chain and track down criminal forgers."

The importance of educational campaigns to teach consumers about the risks fake medicines can pose was also highlighted.

Bayer recently published a guide to help consumers protect themselves against counterfeit medicines, while a series of videos designed to inform the public about various aspects of the trade, including the unpleasant and potentially harmful ingredients that are found in fake medicines, were also unveiled at the event.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one out of two medicines bought on the internet is counterfeit, and the trade seems to be on the rise; German customs seized 1.4 million counterfeit tablets, powders and vials in the first half of 2013, an increase of 15 per cent on the same period of 2012.

"We must ensure that patients in Europe receive their medicines from safe sources on a sustained basis," said Bergström.

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