IRACM is launching a new campaign
to educate the public about
purchasing of fake drugs on internet

January 2013 marked a turning point in the health industry: pharmacies were authorised to sell over the counter (OTC) medicines from a website and offer prescription medicines to order.

One year after this legislation came into force, 13% of French people had already bought medicines on internet.1 

While one out of every three French people would like legislation to go further and authorise the sale of prescription medicines on internet1, they may not know that 62% of medicines bought on Internet worldwide are believed to be counterfeit2. Buying medicines on Internet is a great advantage for the general public: medicines are just a click away, with confidentiality and the opportunity to compare prices… But to buy from the right place, purchasers should observe just a few basic principles. 

Since its creation in 2010, the International Institute for Research Against Counterfeit Medicines (IRACM) has worked to fight against counterfeit medicines. Our action focuses on informing and helping a variety of audiences: politicians, security forces, healthcare professionals and the general public. Following an initial campaign launched in July 2015 “What in the world is a fake medicine?”, IRACM is once again speaking up to inform and educate the general public, with a fun, off-beat video on the fake medicine trade on Internet.


A video to educate the public and get rid of their complexes

While it is known that counterfeit medicines endanger public health, the French are not yet really aware of the trade. At IRACM we want to educate as many people as possible. We have therefore chosen to treat the subject with a touch of humour, using a viral video, rather than being gloom-mongers.

This Internet film takes people into the daily life of an ordinary family, whose members buy lifestyle medicines on Internet to improve their looks or their physical prowess. We can all recognise ourselves in one of these characters. 

Like 80% of French people who seek information about health on internet1, IRACM too is using this medium to show the video on various general public websites, particularly those dedicated to health, and the social networks. Our aim is to let the viral nature of Internet do its work, so that the video is shared as widely as possible. 

The video “The Allfakes” is the second part of the communication campaign – the first of its kind – begun in July 2015 by IRACM, “What in the world is a fake medicine?”. The first action aimed to inform and educate the general public about the risks posed by counterfeit or fake medicines, with an information booklet containing many helpful tips, a bespoke website, a poster and a quiz. This second part focuses on the risks incurred on Internet, which spreads this international scourge.

Find all the information about this web campaign Le faux medicament, késako ? (in French).


Where to buy medicines on Internet

Since January 2013, OTC (over the counter) medicines have been available for sale on Internet. It is also possible to order prescription medicines provided you pick them up in the actual pharmacy, with the prescription in hand. 

In France today there are 307 authorised online pharmacies. They account for less than 2% of French pharmacies, but they have already convinced 13% of French people who buy medicines on internet1. 

The best solution to protect yourself against counterfeit medicines on the net is to identify the fake online pharmacy websites. For that, if you buy medicines on internet, we recommend these useful rules:

  • consult the official list of French pharmacies authorised to sell on Internet:
  • look for obvious signs: spelling mistakes, information in a foreign language, odd-looking characters;
  • see if prescription medicines are available over the counter: that is forbidden in France;
  • if the prices are abnormally low, with no indication of a sales promotion, the site may well be illegal;
  • do not trust a “.fr” address: some sites selling medicines on Internet usurp French-sounding domain names to trick Internet users;
  • buy in stores associated with legitimate supply chains.


1 2014 – IFOP
2 Study by the European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines
3 European Commission
4 2005 – FDA
5 2001 – World Economic Forum
6 Study: “Cracking Counterfeit Europe”
7Chart of signatures and ratifications of Medicrime Convention


Read the press release
Download the press release dated December 15, 2015