Interpol-medicine industry alliance reminder of counterfeit medicine risk

The announcement today of an alliance between Interpol and the global medicines industry to combat the trade in counterfeit medicines is a timely reminder of the dangers of buying prescription medicines over the internet.

The alliance between Interpol and 29 pharmaceutical companies to create a Pharmaceutical Crime Program will focus on preventing counterfeiting of medicines, dismantling organised crime networks and raising public awareness.

Medicines Australia chief executive Dr Brendan Shaw said the initiative is a reminder of the risks of buying medicines on the internet.

“The advice from Medicines Australia is very clear: don’t buy medicines on the internet because you just don’t know what you’re getting,” Dr Shaw said.

“Prescription medicines in Australia are very well regulated to make sure they’re safe and they work properly.

“Consumers can be confident that the medicines they receive through the normal channels in Australia, such as through your pharmacy or hospital, are the real McCoy.

“But there is no regulation of medicines sold over the internet, so you risk serious side effects, allergic reactions or interactions with your existing medication.

“Fifty per cent of medicines bought over the internet from illegal websites are fake.

“That means you just don’t know what you’re buying or where it’s from. And there’s no guarantee that what it says on the box is what’s in the pill.

“Medicines bought over the internet may not have the active ingredients they claim to have, some may not work, or may have other ingredients in them that are actually dangerous. We strongly urge consumers to think about the risks and stay away from online medicines. It’s not worth jeopardising your health.

“Clear evidence is emerging of thousands of websites operating internationally that are engaged in the supply of counterfeit medicines.

“It’s alarming that millions of doses of pills falsely claiming to be antibiotics, anti-cancer, anti-depression, pain killers or treatments for erectile dysfunction from rogue internet sites are finding their way into the marketplace.

“With this new initiative the medicines industry is doing its bit to help combat counterfeit medicines, and the best way for consumers to avoid them is to get prescriptions through the normal channels such as your local community pharmacy or hospital.”


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Jamie Nicholson
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