Counterfeit medicines - questions and answers

29 November 2010

Have counterfeit medicines been found on the Danish market so far?

So far, we have not found counterfeit medicines in the legal supply chain in Denmark (i.e. pharmacies and authorised sales outlets). But, we know that counterfeit medicines have been sold from illegal websites in Denmark.

Have counterfeit medicines been discovered on the European market so far?

There have been several examples of counterfeit medicines in the legal supply chain in other European countries (i.e. at pharmacies and other authorised distributors). Furthermore, there have been several instances of counterfeits on websites established outside Denmark.

One of the most frightening discoveries appears from an EU customs report, which describes the finding of a counterfeit medicine for cardiovascular disease. The counterfeit consisted of brick dust coated with yellow paint (of the type used to paint road markings) and furniture varnish.

Which kinds of medicines are typically counterfeited?

Worldwide, there have been discoveries of counterfeits of a number of different kinds of medicines. There have been findings of counterfeit potency-enhancing drugs, weight-loss products and antibiotics and cancer medicines.

How does the sale of counterfeit medicines take place, and can anything be done about it?

The distribution of counterfeit medicines often takes place by means of complex systems, which makes it difficult to find out who is behind the setup and where in the world the main perpetrators are. Fortunately, our collaboration with the other European drug regulatory authorities increases our possibilities of unravelling the cases.

How does the Danish Health and Medicines Authority cooperate with the industry and industry associations to prevent counterfeit medicines in Denmark?

The Danish Health and Medicines Authority ’s network against counterfeit medicines has been established in cooperation with other relevant authorities, industry organisations and stakeholders, which work closely together on issues of counterfeit medicines.

The work includes the developement of measures to ensure the collection of valid data to determine the extent of the problem, and the network is an important forum for the exchange of information in the area.

What should consumers be particularly aware of if they buy medicines from other outlets than pharmacies and authorised distributors?

The Danish Health and Medicines Authority  strongly urges consumers to buy medicines from pharmacies or other authorised distributors.

If you buy medicines outside a pharmacy or authorised retail outlet, for example from a website, without consulting your doctor, there is a risk that the sender/manufacturer is an impostor.

Many websites appear to be authorised by Danish or other European authorities – even though they are not.

The product contains other ingredients than declared on the package or contain other doses than indicated.

We have seen numerous examples of products claimed to be herbal products, which, in fact, showed to contain active pharmaceutical ingredients in high doses.

The advise you get on the website is not offered by a physician or a healthcare professional, even though it might seem that way.
you violate the rules on importation of medicines, which could mean that you will be fined by the police.

It is illegal to import medicines to Denmark from countries outside EU/EEA, and there is a risk that products bought from a website that appears to be European are dispatched to you from a non-EU/EEA country.