Seen and heard: counterfeiting news in brief

Abbott heart device hacking, falsified medicines ring nailed, counterfeit trader profits seized and tobacco 'mini-packs'.

Abbott releases software patch to prevent heart device hacking

Medical device company Abbott Laboratories has released software fixes for implantable cardiac pacemakers - made by its St Jude Medical unit – to protect them from hacking attacks and improve cybersecurity, according to a Chicago Business Tribune report. The US FDA issued a notice in January saying the devices were vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks that might allow a third party to control them remotely. Patients must visit their doctors to get the updates, which should take about three minutes. The FDA noted there are no known cases of patients being harmed because of the cybersecurity issue, says the newspaper.

Hong Kong customs nab falsified medicines ring

Fourteen people have been arrested after a two-day enforcement operation in Hong Kong targeting the sale and distribution of falsified pharmaceuticals and controlled drugs in the Tsing Yi, Kwai Chung, Hung Hom and Wong Tai Sin districts, says the Xinhua news agency. About 2,700 pills of suspected counterfeit medicines and 92,000 pills of suspected controlled drugs were seized with an estimated market value of about $262,000.

UK trader forced to repay profits from fake clothing sales

The UK's proceeds of crime legislation swung into action this week when the owner of a shop in York, UK, was ordered to pay more than £75,000 within three months or face a two-year jail sentence. Francis Kerr (70) of the Miss Diva shop in the city centre will also have to pay £15,000 in costs after being found guilty of trading in counterfeit Jack Daniels, Boy London, Chanel and Louis Vuitton clothing and other goods. The ability to confiscate assets has proved to be a potent weapon in the fight against this form of illicit trade.

Tobacco companies insist smaller packs help fight illicit trade

Tobacco manufacturers including British American Tobacco (BAT) have rejected claims that introducing 10-stick mini-packs in Malaysia is a ploy to encourage smoking by young people, says the country's Star newspaper. BAT said in a statement that the "objective of smaller packs is to provide a legal alternative to this segment of adult smokers. Presently there is no such alternative. It is either the unaffordable legal packs or the very cheap illegal cigarettes." That view was echoed by Japan Tobacco International (JTI), which said: "Illegal cigarettes are the real 'kiddie packs' – they are sold at RM3-5 per pack and have garnered close to 60 per cent of the market." In Malaysia cigarette packs typically sell for RM17 (around $4).

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