CHINA – During a national blitz on fake pharmaceutical drugs, police in China seized US$182 million worth of counterfeit products and detained almost 2,000 people.
According to the Ministry of Public Security, some of the fake pharmaceutical drugs seized during the raid last week included counterfeits which were advertised for treating hypertension, diabetes, cancer, and other conditions, but in fact caused liver, kidney, and cardiovascular damage.
A total of 1,100 production facilities were also destroyed. Alongside the raids, the ministry announced that it would pay between 500 and 50,000 yuan (US$78-7,800) for information on suspected counterfeiters.
While claiming to have dealt a “devastating blow” to both the manufacturing and distribution arms of the criminal groups that have flooded the Chinese market with fakes, the ministry acknowledged, “However, the crime of counterfeiting drugs is far from eradicated.
“The methods are becoming more elusive and deceptive.”
Though most of the fake drugs produced in China are intended for sale within the country, many are also smuggled overseas. According to a report released in July 2012, the EU estimated that almost €20m (US$24.7m) worth of Chinese counterfeit drugs were intercepted by European border agencies in 2011.
One of the ways the Chinese government is trying to solve the problem of counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs is by tightening industry standards.
For example, the State Food & Drug Administration (SFDA) will introduce tougher standards for excipients – the nonactive ingredients used to formulate drugs - effective on 1 February 2013. The new rules follow revelations that Chinese companies manufactured drug capsules using industrial-grade gelatin made from leather scraps, which contain high levels of chromium. These incidents led to arrests and shutdowns in April and May.
As outlined in the new regulations, SFDA will increase its monitoring of drug formulators and excipient manufacturers. New excipients, or those potentially posing safety risks, will have to be registered and approved.