Ukraine busts counterfeit medicine network

Enforcement agencies in Ukraine have disrupted an organised crime group involved in large-scale manufacturing of falsified medicines, including anabolic steroids and ‘high-potency’ drugs.

The operation by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said in a press release that four residents of Kharkov and Kiev – two of whom have been remanded in custody – were behind the illegal production, which used raw materials shipped from “a country in East Asia.”

The group carried out the production of the illicit medicines in a rented unit in Kharkov, and forged the “packaging, holograms and instructions” of the products at a printing business in the city where one of the conspirators worked.

The drugs – reported to be copies of brands sold by “well-known manufacturers” – were sold online and according to estimates netted the perpetrators around 15m hryvnia (around $530,000) per year.

A pre-trial investigation is underway, and if convicted the accused face up to 10 years in prison.

In 2019, Ukraine’s criminal code was updated t stiffen the penalties for producing and trafficking in counterfeit medicines, with sentences of up to 10 years for large-scale distribution and up to 15 years if use of the fake drugs leads to a fatality.

Earlier this year it was reported that Ukraine shut down another clandestine production facility for falsified medicines – run by a rogue pharmaceutical company worker - operating in the town of Lubny in the Poltava region.

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