Counterfits on Counterfeits

J0341720 An incident this week makes me want to echo back to a posting a few weeks ago about counterfeit drugs. 

Every time there is a debate about importation someone has a fit claiming that importation is a vector for terrorism – that it allows the tampering of drugs from outside the U.S. to plant something terrible inside the U.S. for those ordering their drugs from Canada or that drugs would be counterfeit.

This week, the FDA issued an advisory for the public regarding counterfeit blood glucose test strips being sold in the United States and used by people with diabetes to measure their blood glucose.   

If you examine a study on counterfeit drugs conducted last year by the Pharmaceutical Security Institute and published in USA Today, you’ll find that of the top 10 countries with counterfeit problems, Canada does not make the the list.  The U.S., however heads the list.   

From 2004 the report found

  1. USA – 76 total incidents
  2. Colombia – 60
  3. China – 59
  4. Russia – 50
  5. India – 39
  6. Peru – 25
  7. Ukraine – 24
  8. Brazil – 19
  9. Israel – 18
  10. Mexico – 17
  11. U.K.- 17

Why would someone need to go to Canada to produce counterfeit drugs when you could do it right here?  Importation seems impractical to me because if enough U.S. residents order their drugs from Canada, demand on supply will boost the price.  Eventually the drugs from Canada would be just as expensive as the drugs from the U.S.  It is simple supply and demand.  That is why importation is questionable. 

But it seems that the safety issue should be resolved at home before casting aspersion on Canada as a supplier. 

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1 Response to Counterfits on Counterfeits

  1. Adam J. Fein says:

    I enjoy reading your blog, but I feel compelled to note that your analysis of counterfeiting does not make sense.
    The current importation movement is about political expediency and blithely ignores the realities of profit-seeking distribution channel intermediaries, legitimate or not.
    Drug diversion is the entry point for every situation involving counterfeit drugs going into legitimate pharmacies. By definition, importation is diversion.
    Track-and-trace only works if everyone decides to buy from legitimate sources. The settlement of the Albers case (announced yesterday) indicates the challenge. On my blog, I call it the demand-side counterfeit drug problem: How do we stop pharmacy buyers and consumers from purchasing outside of a theoretically secure supply chain? See
    I have many posts on my Drug Channels blog with additional details and citations. See the posts under the Counterfeiting topic:

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