Medicines top consumers' counterfeit concern list

November 27, 2009
Stephanie Sutton

Stephanie Sutton was an assistant editor at Pharmaceutical Technology Europe.

Pharmaceutical Technology Europe

Five per cent of consumers across five European countries suspect they may have received a counterfeit prescription and 1% believe that they definitely have, according to research conducted by ICM on behalf of patient safety communications company Aegate (UK).

Five per cent of consumers across five European countries suspect they may have received a counterfeit prescription and 1% believe that they definitely have, according to research conducted by ICM on behalf of patient safety communications company Aegate (UK). The company believes that as many as 12.8 million consumers could have been exposed to counterfeit drugs in the surveyed markets.

"It is very different buying medication online to buying an item of clothing," Gary Noon, CEO of Aegate, said in a press statement. "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."

According to the press statement, awareness of the market for counterfeit drugs in Europe is moderate, with 61% of consumers knowing that prescription drugs can be faked. Almost 80% of consumers put medicines at the top of their counterfeit concern list ahead of other products such as designer clothes and toys.

And who do consumers consider to be responsible for controlling the fake drug trade? The majority (45%) of consumers say the manufacturer is responsible, while 31% say the wholesaler and 30% the pharmacist. Noon said: "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 conduct such an important task."

Eighty five per cent of consumers said they would feel more confident if there was a safety feature included on medicine packs that enabled the pharmacist to verify if the medicine is genuine prior to dispensing. Additionally, consumers also believe there would be tougher punishments: more than 66% of consumers said that the penalty for counterfeiting medicines should be 5–15 years in prison, while approximately 20% felt that life in prison was justified.

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