Campaign addresses online counterfeit medicine sales

The International Institute Against Counterfeit Medicines (IRACM) has launched a new phase of its awareness campaign about drugs bought on the Internet.

The It's all fake message extends a nationwide campaign launched in France in July - entitled What in the world is a fake medicine?, and through the dissemination of an information booklet to make people aware of the fake medicines available on Internet, and that are also bought when travelling.

The new international campaign is aimed at social networks, specialised websites and blogs, and consists of a short film showing a family - the Allfakes - who have purchased counterfeit products on Internet.

The film deals with serious topics in a light-hearted manner, but tackles important questions, such as whether medicines bought online are reliable, and discussing the results and consequences of taking them.

According to LegitScript, of the 331,430 websites monitored that sell healthcare products, 94.3 per cent are selling pharmaceutical products illegally, according to IRACM.

"Online purchasing is becoming too simple and inspections are not reliable enough. IRACM has therefore chosen to focus on this aggressive and pernicious cybercrime that knows no borders," said the organisation.

It recommends consumers consult the official list of French pharmacies authorised to sell on Internet, and look for obvious signs that a site is illegitimate such as spelling mistakes, information in a foreign language or odd-looking characters.

IRACM also advises checking if prescription medicines are available over the counter - which is is forbidden in France - and notes that if the prices are abnormally low, with no indication of a sales promotion, the site may well be illegal.

The public should not trust a '.fr' web address, it continues, noting that some sites selling medicines on the Internet usurp French-sounding domain names to trick Internet users, and recommends buying only from online stores associated with legitimate supply chains.

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