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Counterfeit drugs concern consumers

Research shows that 79 per cent of consumers place fear of counterfeit medicine ahead of any other fake product

Research carried out by ICM, on behalf of patient safety communications company, Aegate, shows that 79 per cent of consumers place fear of counterfeit medicine ahead of any other fake product.

According to the study, 5 per cent of European consumers suspect they have received a counterfeit prescription drug and 1 per cent of these believe the product was counterfeit.

The researchers found that 61 per cent of those surveyed in Europe were aware that prescription medicines could be faked. According to Aegate, EU customs data showed that 34 million counterfeit pills valued at €89m were seized between October and December 2008.

A large number (85 per cent) of consumers felt that their confidence in prescription medicines would be increased if pharmacists were able to verify authenticity through a safety feature within the packaging. Respondents also called for stronger penalties for those who counterfeit medicine, with over two thirds saying the punishment should be a custodial sentence of between five and 15 years.

"Patients need to be encouraged to seek medicines from their high street pharmacist who is trained and qualified to assess their medical needs as well as the medicine. Patient safety should be the industry's priority from the regulator, to the manufacturer and to the pharmacist and it is clear we need to ensure the pharmacist has the right tools in place to carry out such an important task," said Gary Noon, CEO, Aegate.

19th November 2009

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