U.N. report: Internet Traffic of Counterfeit Medicines Floods World


VIENNA - The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) announced that counterfeit medicines, some of them sold over the internet, are flooding unregulated markets in many emerging nations with sometimes deadly results.

Quoting World Health Organization (WHO) findings, anywhere from 25 to 50 percent of the medicines used in developing nations are now believed to be fake, according the INCB 2006
report. These medicines were found in a variety of locations, ranging from local village markets to internet websites.

The report stated, "This market is believed to be increasing rapidly.  It exposes patients to serious health risks by providing access to poorly or incorrectly labeled medicines that are ineffective, substandard and in some case, even lethal."

The board highlighted the dangers in these markets, where counterfeit drugs are intensifying and noted the widespread and growing misuse of prescription and weight loss drugs.

The Vienna-based board is an independent judicial body elected by the United Nations members created to monitor the implementation of world drug control conventions.

Stating that to meet the growing demand for cheap medicines, drug traffickers have increasingly turned to the internet, postal and courier services to distribute their products.

The report further stated, "the abuse and trafficking of prescription drugs is about to exceed abuse of illicit drugs.  Demand for these products is so high that it has given rise to a new problem-counterfeit drugs.  Progress made over the last 40 years in illicit drugs is now being undermined."

Governments need to enforce existing laws and solve the problem of Web distribution, the Board President said. 

The report said the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime and WHO should help member states that have little financial means and are overwhelmed by drug traffickers that are able to evade or pay off local law enforcement in emerging nations.

Human rights organizations have long attacked the INCB for promoting policies that ignore AIDS prevention and other public health issues, such as the use of methadone for treating drug addicts.


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