Click to a pharmacy online, the internet has a host of medicines and pills for sale but many of them are fake. Around a hundred countries have taken part in an operation coordinated by Interpol to stamp out the illegal operation.
Medicines are often cheaper online but you can pay a high price with your health. Brigitte Mouraret a pharmacist in the French city of Lyon explained one of the reasons for buying through the internet.
“There are people who buy on the internet because they do not dare to talk about their problems at the pharmacy, but there is no security as to the quality of what they will buy,” she said.
According to the World Health Organisation 50 to 80% of drugs on the internet are fake.
This operation called Pangea VI has resulted in 58 arrests, the closure of internet sites and the seizure of millions of potentially dangerous medicines.
Aline Plancon Head of Pharmaceutical Crime Unit at Interpol gave specific figures.
“We have shut down more than 10,000 illegal pharmacy sites online and taken almost 10 million medicines.”
Buying online offers no guarantees as to the safety of the drugs. The sales are not policed and there is often no indication of what is actually in the medicine.
“Evidence suggests the counterfeit medicines that we’ve seized contain no active ingredients; little ingredients or the wrong ingredients. The key message is that using these medicines is dangerous.”
Ten percent of drugs in the world are fake and it is big business with huge profits 58 billion euros were the profits three years ago.
On an investment of one thousand euros a criminal can increase that figure twenty times if it is invested in heroin but put it into fake medicines and that figure soars to 400,000 euros.
Our correspondent Laurence Alexandrowicz says: “According to the World Health Organisation in most industrialised countries, where there are checks, the incidence of counterfeit drugs is low, less than one percent of the market value. But in other countries, such as South America, Asia and especially Africa fake drugs account for twenty to thirty percent of the market.”