UK : COVID-19: decrease in GP visits but online medicine purchases on the rise

Phil Lewis, director general of the Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG), says the trend of buying prescription-based medicines over the internet is worrying given the dramatic fall in visits to general practitioners in the UK for routine consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Data shows that the total number of appointments recorded in GP practice systems fell from 6m, at the beginning of March, to 4.25m by the end of that month – a reduction of almost 30 per cent. “This has happened at a time when large organized gangs, operating across the world have turned their attention to online crime” said Lewis. “They use sophisticated websites, social media and e-commerce platforms to advertise products using fake trademarks, brand names and certification labels to try and convince customers they’re buying genuine, safe products.”

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Australia : Fake hepatic medicines identified in Australia and other countries

In March fake vials of DEFIBROTIDE 200mg displaying batch number 0286 were identified in Australia. One month later, fake vials of DEFIBROTIDE 200mg vials had also been supplied to Saudi Arabia and Latvia, displaying batch number 0286 and 0126.
DEFIBROTIDE is used to treat hepatic veno-occlusive disease, in which the blood vessels in the liver become damaged and obstructed by blood clots. This can be caused by treatments prior to a stem cell transplantation. Laboratory analyses established that these fake products do not contain any of the expected active ingredient. The solution in the vials is also thought to be contaminated by mold.

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Cameroon : Fake batch of antimalarial medicine identified

The Minister of Public Health has issued a warning that a batch of fake Coartem is in circulation:
“The batch in question is ‘F2261 Coartem 20mg/120mg, tablets, Box of 30 x 24 tablets’”. Screening results reveal that the fake medicine does not contain antimalarial medicine but sildenafil (an aphrodisiac) and Ciprofloxacin (an antibiotic). The Minister also warned that “the original product is only sold in packs of 30 sachets and not in loose form”.

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US : Another fake coronavirus medicines seized

Customs and Border Protection officers (CPB) in Pennsylvania recently seized Linhua Qingwen capsules. Linhua Qingwen is commonly used for the prevention and treatment of viral influenza in China. It is composed of 11 herbs, gypsum, menthol, and more. The capsules are being sold as a treatment for COVID-19, but their effectiveness is unknown.
Since March 23, CBP officers at the Area Ports of Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, and the Ports of Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, completed 18 seizures that collectively included:

– more than 1,350 unapproved and counterfeit COVID-19 test kits;
– nearly 400 counterfeit N95 respirator masks;
– nearly 2,500 unapproved and potentially counterfeit medicines, including Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate, Chloroquine, Azithromycin, Lianhua Qingwen and Liushen Jiaonang;
– and more than 67,000 counterfeit ACCU-CHEK test strips.

These products were shipped from manufacturers and distributors in China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Senegal, Germany and the United Kingdom and were destined to addresses in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, Connecticut, and Florida.

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Morocco : Two men arrested for official document fraud and unlicensed medicines trafficking

Two individuals, one of whom is a repeat offender, were arrested in a case involving usurpation of office, use of fake official documents and trafficking unlicensed medical and paramedical equipment. Officials noticed an advert on Facebook for alleged abortion medicines and then launched an investigation in several towns in Morocco. The first suspect was arrested in Tangier. The second suspect, the main supplier, pretended to be a gynecologist and was found to have 171 medical devices, boxes of medicines, and fake prescriptions, etc., in his possession. Police also seized proof of money transfers sent by potential victims in Morocco and a computer and printer used to create fake documents.

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