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Countering the Counterfeits

At a recent conference in London, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) stated that keeping counterfeit medicines out of the UK was at the top of their agenda. It is easy to understand its concern, and also to get some idea of the scale of the challenge. Even those outside the pharmaceutical industry are aware of the issue, if only from receiving a daily barrage of emails purporting to offer cheap medicines from licensed pharmacists with dubious and occasionally ridiculous email addresses. Only the most naïve consumers would believe that all the drugs on offer are legitimate, and yet it is obvious that many people are purchasing potentially unsafe medicines from illegitimate sources. Quite what impact the swine flu outbreak has had on internet sales of anti-virals is anyone’s guess. As the H1N1 virus has risen to level 6 pandemic status, there has also been a rise in the number of unsolicited emails purporting to sell antiviral drugs, the vast majority of which are almost certainly bogus.

At the conference, Jim Thomson of the European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicine (EAASM) highlighted the specific concern of counterfeits purchased over the internet. The EAASM had conducted its own survey, ordering prescription drugs from online pharmacists, avoiding those that were obviously bogus, and purchasing from sites that fulfilled the criteria an average customer might expect of legitimate pharmacies (such as phone calls answered and a pharmacist apparently available).


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Philip Payne joined RSSL Pharma as Business Development Manager in 2007. He joined from Italian API producer, Steroid, where he was general manager with responsibility for sales, procurement, production and analysis. Fluent in Italian, French and English, and with broad experience of research and production, Philip now helps RSSL Pharma to promote its analytical and training services more widely across Europe, as well as in its primary markets of the UK and Ireland.
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