Pharmaceutical crime: news in brief

Vials of medicineHospital infections caused by illicit drugs; a warehouse raid in Pakistan; fake veterinary drugs in the UK; Ghanaian awareness campaign; and a series of hospitalisations caused by fake diazepam in Northern Ireland.

Theft, diversion and tampering of medicines by just six healthcare workers exposed more than 30,000 patients in the US to infections - including hepatitis C virus - over a 10-year period, according to researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Melissa Schaefer and Joseph Perz report in Mayo Clinic Proceedings (July 2014) that they identified six outbreaks within hospitals of infections linked to the use of patient-controlled analgesia pumps and syringes or vials containing the painkiller fentanyl. The outbreaks "revealed gaps in prevention, detection, and response to drug diversion in US healthcare facilities," write the authors.

Police in Pakistan have closed down an illicit production unit for counterfeit medicines housed in a clothing warehouse in the Shah Latif Town area of Karachi, reports the Daily Times. Three people were arrested and a "huge quantity" of counterfeit medicines seized in the operation, according to the newspaper, which said the raid was carried out at the request of pharma company Sanofi.

Counterfeit versions of Boehringer Ingelheim's veterinary anti-inflammatory Metacam (meloxicam) are circulating in the UK market, according to a report in Farmer's Weekly. The injectable solution is used to treat a range of common inflammatory conditions in cattle, pigs and horses and for the control of post-operative pain in dehorned calves. The counterfeit vial had a poor copy of the label, was made from a different type of glass, stopper and crimp-on cap and carried a false batch number and expiry date information, according to the company.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana has launched a new initiative - called PREVENT (Patients’ Research, Empowerment, Vigilance and Education through New Technologies) - in an attempt to block the entry of counterfeit medicines into the domestic supply chain, reports The campaign will try to raise awareness of the counterfeit medicines menace via social media - including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram - as well as the mPedigree medicine-pack coding initiative which allows the public to self-authenticate medicine packs via text message.

Young people in Northern Ireland have been hospitalised after consuming counterfeit diazepam tablets bought on the Internet, according to the UTV news network. The report cites a local police officer giving evidence in the trial of Martin McShane, who was arrested earlier this month for dealing diazepam tablets.

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