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.


Mapping the scale of the fake pharmaceutical challenge

Pharmaceuticals are particularly vulnerable to counterfeiting. This chapter looks at the scale of the counterfeiting challenge, drawing on customs seizures and enforcement action data to track the recent growth in incidents. It also reveals the types of products most commonly counterfeited, and maps the intellectual property rights holders most affected. It then reports on analysis into the main trade routes for fake pharmaceuticals, including making the distinction between countries which produce the fakes and those which act as transit points on their way to their final markets.


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