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Fake Pharmaceuticals from China Flood UK Market

January 5, 2009

Counterfeit versions of popular medications are flooding Britain’s National Health Service (NHS). This has people worried about their health—when they can’t be sure the blood pressure pills, cancer medication, or anti-depressants they are getting from their local pharmacy are the real thing.

British Newspaper The Observer reports that China-based crime syndicates are pumping hundreds of thousands of counterfeit pills into the UK. Figures collected for the first time show that UK border officials seized roughly half a million counterfeit pills in 2008—an amount equal to the total number of fake pills seized in all of Europe in 2005.

The fakes are getting through, in part, because they are good fakes and hard to detect. Also, customs officials are only able to physically check about 1% of imports.

Legal experts in the UK warn that the problem is so rampant that it could “completely undermine” public faith in the NHS.

But it’s a multi-million dollar business for the China-based counterfeit rings. The cash-strapped NHS is looking for deals—and this leaves them vulnerable to the counterfeiters, who move their product by offering it at prices way below the market rate.