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Med Trop (Mars). 2006 Dec;66(6):529-32.

[Counterfeit medicines: a growing threat].

[Article in French]

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  • 1ReMeD, Paris, France.


The medical drug market has undergone considerable transformation in recent years. Like other products, medicines have been affected by globalization. Free trade policies have had a number of negative effects including a reduction in quality control not only for some products but also for raw materials and finished products. The global environment has also created conditions conducive to counterfeit medicines. The term counterfeit medicine is defined differently from one country to another in terms of quality, legality and fraudulent intent. This situation prompted the WHO to propose the following definition: "A counterfeit medicine is one which is deliberately and fraudulently mislabeled with respect to identity and/or source. Counterfeiting can apply to both branded and generic products and counterfeit products may include products with the correct ingredients or with the wrong ingredients, without active ingredients, with insufficient active ingredients or with fake packaging." Weak pharmaceutical regulation often compounded by widespread corruption in developing countries has greatly facilitated the development of this illicit market with harmful and costly effects on public health. Due to the lack of pharmocovigilance accidents involving use of counterfeit drugs go unreported. For this reason it is not possible to measure the economic impact. While counterfeiting has become a major threat in developing countries, it also affects industrialized countries. Fraudulent behavior occurs all over the world.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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