£117 million of fake drugs are seized during police raids

A country-wide operation in China that involved approximately 18,000 police officers has culminated in the arrest of almost 2,000 people and the seizing of an incredible 1.16bn Yuan ($182m; £117m) of fake medicines in just the past month alone. The arrests were made in an attempt to clean up a country which is widely known for its high volume of bogus products, including a very prosperous nationwide counterfeit drugs market.

As well as millions of dollars’ worth of fake drugs being seized, the police raids in China resulted in the destruction of about 1,100 production facilities according to the Chinese public security minister who spoke yesterday, and confirmed that the arrests actually occurred last month.

The released statement said that some of the counterfeit drugs officials had seized included convincing look-a-likes that were apparently to treat a wide range of conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, skin problems, cancer and rabies. In an attempt to pass the dangerous drugs off as ‘genuine’, the crafty criminals went to extreme measures such as paying to advertise the goods on the internet, newspapers and on television. It has been reported that some of the problems the fakes had caused included serious issues such as heart failure, liver damage and kidney damage.

China is one of the globe’s biggest producers of fake medicines and authorities now need to devise new ways to stop the problem for good. Medical Specialists Pharmacy are strong campaigners for the introduction of much tougher legislation for anybody found guilty of dealing with counterfeit medicines. After all, it is people’s lives at stake when ingesting potentially toxic chemicals that have been poorly produced in a dirty, unhygienic warehouse.

For instance, back in 2008 Chinese drug makers used contaminated ingredients to produce the blood thinning medication ‘Heparin’, resulting in the tragic death of 80 people and many hundreds more in the US had allergic reactions due to the harmful batch. This happened as worryingly some of the goods had been exported overseas. Indeed, from the statement released yesterday, it was uncertain if last month’s apprehended haul were actually meant for Chinese use or distribution to overseas countries.

The ministry are understandably pleased with the latest arrests, with there now being fewer products flooding the market and putting patients lives at risk. However, they have urged for some caution and said, “The crime of making drugs is still far from eradicated, and criminals are coming up with new schemes, becoming craftier and better able to deceive it.” They have further advised everybody to only purchase and obtain their medications from reputable pharmacies and hospitals. Some important things to be aware of, especially when browsing through different websites online, include:

. Long delivery times, sometimes up to several weeks. This is due to the drug being imported from a foreign country before it gets to you.

. For erectile dysfunction medication, phony website could state ‘generic Viagra’ or ‘generic sildenafil citrate’. There is no such thing as generic Viagra!

. The price of the medication is a lot cheaper than usual, sometimes by as much as 70%.

. The website does not list any contact details, e.g. a telephone and fax number, company address, pharmacists, doctors, etc.

. A registered Pharmacy such as Medical Specialists Pharmacy will have the GPhC green cross logo together with its Pharmacy number. This number can be checked to see if it does actually exist.

. The company registration and VAT number should both be clearly stated on the website. Both of these are a legal requirement.

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