Taiwanese survey finds counterfeit rate of 8%

Chinese pharmacistA Taiwanese survey to gauge the scale of counterfeiting in the country has found that 8 per cent of pharmacies were carrying fake products.

The Taiwan Medical Product Anti-Counterfeit Task Force (TMPACT) – a non-governmental organisation with representatives from the regulatory authority, medical profession, pharmaceutical industry, pharmacists and other healthcare bodies - sent surveys to around 500 pharmacies, and 500 members of the public.

The study found that the leading three counterfeited brands were Pfizer’s erectile dysfunction medication Viagra (sildenafil), Rottapharm’s glucosamine-based product Viartril-S for arthritis and Abbott Laboratories’ weight-loss drug Reductil (sibutramine).

TMPACT used Near-Infrared (NIR) spectroscopy to test the suspect products. Taiwan bought three NIR machines in 2007 as part of a drive to help combat medicines counterfeiting in the country.

The advantage of NIR analysis is its speed. Using it a tablet can be tested in a few seconds without even being removed from a blister pack. Conventional methods often rely on dissolving the medicine and testing it using mass spectrometry.

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