The fight against counterfeit medicines has a new European directive on its side, approved by the European Parliament and expected to win the green light soon from the EU member states. This introduces safety feature requirements such as serial numbers or holograms on packaging.
Counterfeit seizures at EU borders have quadrupled in the past four years. There were more than 11 million in 2009, and experts say consumers must be aware that fake batches can be mixed in with real drugs.
The EU law is especially aimed at beating back booming internet sales of counterfeits.
Web sites will have to register with national and the EU authorities, but John Dalli, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, said buyers beware: “We can do our utmost to prevent people from being duped, but if someone wants to take the risk, there is very little we can do to stop him.”
The costs of the safety measures born by the drugs industry could potentially hit conventional consumers. Watchdogs are also worried about sensitive personal information being stored in pharmacy databases then being shared across national borders.