Thursday, 14 May 2009

Counterfeit and Parallel Importation of Medicines Affect the Confidence of the Brazilians: Call for Stringent Action from the Government

From January through March of this year, the Brazilian Health National Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) and the Ministry of Justice organized and led a joint massive seizure campaign against counterfeit and illegal drugs in the Brazilian territory.

The result of the campaign was recently disclosed to the public and evidenced the growth of activities on parallel importation and counterfeit medicines in Brazil. It was seized more than 170 tons of medicines, mostly from parallel importation and drugs marketed without ANVISA’s approval and registration. Only 5% of the products were pirate.

Such illegal products were mainly found on the shelves of pharmacies duly accredited by the government (some of them are reputed pharmacies). It was further confirmed that their owners were involved in someway in such schemes. The most common pirate medicines were those related to sexual impotence, such as Viagra and Cialis.

Further to that, the pirates and distributers of parallel importers adopted highly creative strategies to deviate from the government’s monitoring, including quick stock replacement and mixing original and fake products in the shelves to get consumers confused.

According to the authorities, no industrial facility producing pirate drugs was found.

The information published by the authorities caused great concern, since the internet was recognized a week before as one of the main routes for marketing counterfeit drugs. Since then, many consumers do not know where or from whom they should buy safe drugs. According to the Brazilian Society of Urology, two factors should worry the authorities as to piracy in the internet and in accredited pharmacies. First, the existing culture of self-medication. Secondly, the sale of drugs without prescription is common among the poor population. In view of these practices, the drug price factor prevails in the consumer’s choice, not the quality and the origin of the medicine.

These have called the adoption of stringent measures against the owners of such pharmacies due to the violation of consumer rights and the breach of the conditions related to the authorization granted by the government, as well as the cease of commercialization in the web.

The main objective is to restore the confidence of consumers and the assurance of the quality of the medicines commercialized in Brazil.

Written by José Carlos Vaz e Dias

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