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Fake drugs warning

22nd November 2006

05052006_pillsred1.jpgFake medicines are on the rise, according to a new report which has called for tougher preventative measures.

Although the developing world is at particular risk of counterfeit medicines, the global market means even the UK is at risk.

The dangers are very real, with some counterfeit medicines found to contain toxic substances, such as anti-freeze, while other fakes may contain too little active substance, and some none at all.

The report from Professor David Taylor, of the University of London School of Pharmacy, said increased drug rationing could lead to a rise in demand for drugs sold over the internet without checks.

The World Health Organisation say more than a quarter of drugs supplied in developing countries are fake, while in wealthier areas like the UK it is less than one per cent.

The report, funded by Pfizer, called for a range of measures to cut the risks, including shortening the medicine supply chains between pharmaceutical manufacturers and pharmacies and introducing 'track and trace' technologies.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said the legitimate UK pharmaceutical supply chain was tightly regulated, and had one of the best international records for being difficult to breach.

The MHRA is currently investigating three cases of fake treatments through the legal NHS supply chain.

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