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Updated by Viola Kilgore on Mar 13, 2016
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The Peterson Group - Counterfeit Drug Awareness Program

The Peterson Group is a non-profit organization/group information website and watchdog of counterfeit and illegal drugs. To organize awareness and action in the battle against counterfeit drugs, the group shaped the organization to make people informed mostly in cities like Singapore, Taipei Taiwan, Beijing, China, Victoria Hong Kong, Jakarta, Indonesia and on almost most part of Malaysia.

Role of Generic Medicines on the Proliferation of Counterfeit Medicines

Because of the lack of resources on some developing countries, most people resort to generic medicines which cost less than branded drugs. Moreover, many third world nations have no capacities and capabilities for pharmaceutical manufacturing which forces even authorities to allow generic copies of medicines to penetrate the market. Generic competition is one of the driving factors on the cost and quality reduction in many countries.

As defined by the Peterson Group, non-profit organization campaigning against proliferation of counterfeit medicines, generic medicines are pharmaceutical copies of drugs which are manufactured without license from the innovator companies and marketed after the expiry date of the patented or other exclusive rights. It is public obligation that the government provides affordable and legitimate medicine functions, however, with the incapability to find good resources, many governments fail in this respect.

Generic medicines are not entirely fraudulent per se but are mostly substandard. Nonetheless, the threat can still be bona fide with what many health professions fear of: circumvention of health regulation, undercutting public confidence, and potentially providing a comparatively easy source of income to criminal elements.

Firstly, health regulations are mostly underrated on generic pharmacies starting from the fact that issuance of prescription are often ignored and neglected. Added to this fact is that generic pharmacies often employ unlicensed pharmacists who do not have enough knowledge on medical terminologies and lexicons.

The second main concern of authorities is that generic pharmacies may undercut public confidence. Faith and trust placed on medicine for safety and proper health treatment implementation is put into question. Even branded medicines being sold in generic pharmacies are doubted to be substandard.

Furthermore, patronization to legitimate medicines has dropped dramatically in the recent years. According to reviews, the cost and effectiveness of genuine medicines are discarded as mere marketing stance by most pharmaceutical companies as loyalties shift to generics which cost less and promise the same effects.

Lastly, generic medicines pave an easier way for criminal counterfeiting.

Recent seizures of drug shipments in one of the hidden ports in outer Jakarta area in Indonesia have sparked concern that efforts to control counterfeits are a smokescreen to curb the sale of generics in the archipelago. Officials claimed generic drugs were counterfeit, placing efforts to adopt and enforce anti-counterfeit legislation in domestic laws as well as in bilateral and multilateral agreements into jeopardy.

Drug Counterfeiting Trends

The sale of counterfeited drugs poses a serious threat to global health scale and pharmaceutical economy. However, it is an issue mostly ignored and neglected since many people- even the authorities - perceive it to be a commercial concern and a brand competition, something which only pharmaceutical companies should solve on their own. Others reveled at the fact that it only encompasses 1% of the overall rating of pharmaceutical products in developed countries.

A research review conducted by the Peterson Group, a nonprofit organization campaigning against the proliferation of drug counterfeiting has shown 2,193 incidents of pharmaceutical crime in 2014 alone. In 2015, a 9% increase was determined especially in many developing cities such as Seoul, South Korea, Jakarta, Indonesia and Bangkok, Thailand. This rise can be attributed largely to the growing influence of online pharmacies that enables drug counterfeits to permeate households even without risking their fraudulence by exposing their products on black markets. In recent reports however, counterfeit drugs have also penetrated legal supplies with the use of advanced technology almost at par with the latest anti-counterfeiting tools. There are currently 123 countries known to report counterfeiting accounts.

The extent of fraud drugs domination on each country may differ but the trends are all the same: they penetrate when the government has turned their backs, when there are no doubts and when security is lose. The internet is even gathering a greater market especially since more than 70% of the world’s population is already online. Prescriptions from doctors claiming legitimacy on the web are rampant and many people have been depending too much on the internet to rely their own health diagnosis on some virtual doctor who would be prescribing them with drug dosage without actually determining the symptoms.

Vague and undetermined statistics also hinder authorities to fully gage the weight of the problem. As a result, the attention is drawn to a more certain concern. Some governments are even ignorant on the existence of the problem within their boundaries. In other times, the governments are more concerned to pinning down illegal drug dealers for heroin; opium, marijuana, and etcetera that they let pass drugs on tablets and capsules, not knowing that the compounds of which (soap detergents, floor wax, chalk) are just as toxic. Other pharmaceutical companies are also denying that their products are counterfeited, making the chase more challenging. Some regulatory agencies may also be confused on the existence of the problem.