News Friday September 10, 2010

£1 million of fake Viagra tablets seized at Heathrow

Officials announced yesterday that 180,000 fake Viagra tablets had been seized at Heathrow airport over the last 3 months.

The UK Border Agency warned that the counterfeit erectile dysfunction tablets, which were worth more than £1 million and were destined for the black market, contained "potentially harmful chemicals which are likely to have the desired effect."

Other goods seized by the airport included 1,300 fake iPhones and 2,500 pieces of counterfeit jewellery worth more than £500,000.

The case comes shortly after a man from Birmingham was sentenced to a 9 month prison sentence, for selling unlicensed impotence drugs. The 61 year old was arrested by police after an investigation by the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority.

A great danger

Head of Operations at the MHRA, Danny Lee-Frost, said that with impotence drugs you "simply do not know what you may be taking and that can pose a great danger to your health."

Counterfeit medicine is remarkably common. A recent study by Pfizer found that almost a fifth of Europeans polled in 14 countries had obtained medicines through illicit channels.

Aggressive measures

An article in The Economist this month says that recently, drug companies have "persuaded several governments to stiffen regulations against fake drugs and to conduct more aggressive raids." Firms are seeking out new technologies that would help defeat counterfeiters. One Ghanaian firm has come up with a novel way to improve the situation. They have invented a scheme where a special code is embossed onto packages, which customers find by scratching off a coating. Customers can then send a free text with that code, to find instantly if the package is genuine or fake.

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