Counterfeit medicines in Asia

Countrefaçon de médicaments

Stopping the production and sale of counterfeit medicines continues to be a huge challenge for Asia’s health and law enforcement communities.

The World Health Organization estimates that as many as 30% of all medicines sold in some areas of Asia are fake.

In the Philippines alone, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of illegal medicines have been seized during 2015, with the majority of fake medicines imported from India, Pakistan, and China.

The Department of Health in Manila says the problem of unregistered and counterfeit medicines in the country has reached alarming levels.

Counterfeit medicines are often generic medicines marketed as branded, with high-demand medications in Asia including rabies vaccines, antibiotics and blood pressure medication, in addition to dietary products and medications for erectile dysfunction.


Sanofi recently conducted a study to help understanding the Asians’ perceptions on counterfeit and how buying habits help fuel the counterfeit drug world.

The study was conducted in six countries – China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam – and asked consumers whether they thought taking counterfeit drugs was a risky business.

The results shed new light on the counterfeit drug trade in Asia.


Of those surveyed, some 67% considered counterfeit medicines to be dangerous, though this level of recognition rose substantially in Indonesia to 86%.

While understanding of the dangers of counterfeits is generally widespread, of more concern is a lack of knowledge on the subject.

Some 76% of Thais surveyed and more than half Indonesians surveyed said they did not know how to tell the difference between a fake medicine and the real thing.


The dangers of buying online


It is estimated that up to 96% of online pharmacy sites are unlawful. In addition, some 50% of medicines bought from websites that conceal their address may also be fake.


Yet despite recognising the dangers of buying online, 39% of Asians surveyed by Sanofi say they have bought medicines on the internet.

Saving time and money are two key reasons cited, along with the ability to be discrete and maintain privacy online.

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