Russian bill seeks tougher penalties for faking drugs

Russian dolls and medicineA bill that would make medicines counterfeiting a separate crime with stiffer penalties has been tabled in the Russian government, according to local news reports.

The legislation - introduced by Senator Anton Belyakov - would increase the maximum jail term for individuals convicted of manufacturing, distributing or selling counterfeit drugs to a maximum of 10 years if use of the fakes results in the two or more fatalities.

At the moment criminals involved in counterfeiting can only be prosecuted under health and safety laws, but the new bill would introduce a dedicated offense in keeping with the Medicrime treaty, which Russia signed three years ago.

Signatories to the convention, are obliged to make  manufacturing, supplying, offering to supply or trafficking of medicinal products - as well as falsifying companying documents - a specific criminal offence.

The Tass news agency reports that Belyakov's bill would amend article 238.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation to introduce jail terms of seven to 10 years - depending on the seriousness of the offence - compared to just two to three years at present.

The fine that can be levied on those convicted would also be increased from 100,000 to 300,000 roubles at the moment to between 500,000 and 1m roubles ($22,000).

It remains to be seen whether the new bill will have more luck advancing onto the statute, however, given that multiple earlier bills trying to increase penalties for medicinal product counterfeiting have failed to win enough support in the Duma.

A report published last year entitled Pharmpiracy in Russia estimated the total value of counterfeits at $2.5bn in 2012, accounting for up to 12 per cent of the total pharmaceutical market.

Documents filed in support of the bill claim Russia is now second only to China as a producer of counterfeit medicines, ahead of India, Brazil and Turkey, according to Tass.

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