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At the Grand Bazaar of Counterfeit Medicines.

The case of the Colgate toothpaste that arrived from China with non-original and therefore potentially dangerous substances has brought to light a disturbing phenomenon: the most widespread fake is Viagra but it also includes anti-retrovirals against AIDS.
The recent case of Colgate toothpaste arriving from China with non-original and therefore potentially harmful substances has brought to light a phenomenon that is assuming alarming proportions, the business of pharmaceutical counterfeiting. It is a problem that goes far beyond the case of a consignment of toothpastes, and has become a traffic similar to that of drugs, moreover with lower risks for the traffickers because the laws of the whole world provide for less heavy penalties for a seller of fake drugs. The most counterfeit drug is Viagra, and in developing countries it is antiretrovirals against HIV. In the list of the most falsified medicines there are also antibiotics, antihypertensives, corticosteroids, sedatives and even anticancer drugs. The illicit market has already invaded the Internet, with counterfeit packages that are apparently identical to the original. What changes can be a detail that is almost invisible to the naked eye, even if the fake pills most often contain talcum powder.
The case is not dissimilar for other medicines such as antibiotics sold in poor countries, where the approximate storage methods of the medicines make it substantially impossible to distinguish the packages. However, they explain to the WHO, even if they are sophisticated fakes, the counterfeiting of medicines does not require technologically advanced means, nor a particularly complex criminal network and the counterfeiters often work at home or in a garage. The fakes affect from 6 to 10% of the world market, with a peak in Asia where they reach 20-30% of the market. The list of countries most at risk sees Russia in the lead, followed by China, South Korea, Peru, Colombia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Germany and Israel. To counter the phenomenon, WHO has activated a task force called Impact (International Medicine Products Anti-Counterfeit Taskforce), a group of experts who, at various levels, are studying how to stem the phenomenon. Every year, according to WHO estimates, at least 200,000 malaria patients die from being treated with fake, shoddy and ineffective drugs. In Niger, 50,000 children have died after receiving a counterfeit meningitis vaccine.
Also recently, a humanitarian organization that had purchased 100,000 packs of artemisinin to distribute in the former Burma for a campaign against malaria, discovered that the entire batch of drugs was fake. One of the causes that fuel this new traffic to the poorest nations, paradoxically, is precisely humanitarian activism. Indeed, financial aid channeled from rich countries to fight disease in the southern hemisphere represents an attractive treasure upon which piracy has set its sights. In Italy the phenomenon does not appear relevant even if commerce on the Internet also affects our country. In 2005, for example, 45,000 inspections were carried out by the police forces. “It is one of the most insidious risks for citizens' health” explains Sergio Dompé, president of Farmindustria, “and under Italian legislation counterfeiting represents a specific crime. The problem is that there is no possibility of control in developing countries, which already have difficulties in finding and distributing medicines. If, hypothetically, these countries could be induced to purchase medicines from Western countries,

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Fedaiisf Federazione delle Associazioni Italiane degli Informatori Scientifici del Farmaco e del Parafarmaco