Trade in Counterfeit Pharmaceutical Products

image of Trade in Counterfeit Pharmaceutical Products

This report, one in a series of studies by the OECD and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), enhances understanding of the issues and challenges facing governments, businesses and society posed by the trade in fake pharmaceutical products. Illicit markets for fake pharmaceuticals are attractive for counterfeiters, given the high profit margins, low risks of detection and prosecution, weak penalties, and the ease with which consumers can be deceived into believing that the counterfeit products are genuine. Counterfeit medicines not only cause economic damage for the sector, but are also a significant threat to public health, since fake medicines are often not properly formulated and may contain dangerous ingredients. Fake pharmaceuticals include antibiotics, lifestyle treatments, pain killers, anti-malarial drugs, diabetes treatments and central nervous system medicines.


Concluding remarks

This study has compiled and analysed a unique international set of customs seizure data and other enforcement data, combined with structured interviews with industry, trade and customs experts, to quantitatively assess the value, scope and trends of the trade in counterfeit pharmaceutical products. It finds that world trade in counterfeit pharmaceuticals accounted for as much as USD 4.4 billion in 2016, which represents 0.84% of world trade in pharmaceuticals. Furthermore, the range of affected medicines is growing.


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