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Counterfeit drugs: an Australian perspective

Conor C Hensey and Amanda Gwee
Med J Aust 2016; 204 (9): 344. || doi: 10.5694/mja16.00105

A recent report on counterfeit drugs and online pharmacies highlighted the global impact of falsified or substandard drugs.1 In countries with stringent legislation, governance and customs, such as Australia, the prevalence of counterfeit medications is low and estimated by the World Health Organization to be less than 1% of market value.2 Substandard medications are a greater issue globally, with reduced efficacy and potential for contamination.3 All may have serious and unpredictable risks (Box).

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  • Conor C Hensey
  • Amanda Gwee

  • Department of General Medicine, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, VIC

Correspondence: conor.hensey@rch.org.au

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

  • 1. Clark F. Rise in online pharmacies sees counterfeit drugs go global. Lancet 2015; 386: 1327-1328.
  • 2. IMPACT: International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce. Counterfeit medicines: an update on estimates. 15 November 2006. http://www.who.int/medicines/services/counterfeit/impact/TheNewEstimatesCounterfeit.pdf (accessed Apr 2016).
  • 3. Johnston A, Holt DW. Substandard drugs: a potential crisis for public health. Br J Clin Pharmacol 2014; 78: 218-243.
  • 4. INTERPOL. INTERPOL-coordinated operation strikes at organized crime with seizure of 20 million illicit medicines. http://www.interpol.int/News-and-media/News/2015/N2015-082 (accessed Jan 2016).
  • 5. Chaubey SK, Sangla KS, Suthaharan EN, Tan YM. Severe hypoglycaemia associated with ingesting counterfeit medication. Med J Aust 2010; 192: 716-717. <MJA full text>
  • 6. Davies B. Dangerous drugs online. Aust Prescr 2012; 35: 32-33.
  • 7. Schep LJ, Slaughter RJ, Temple WA, Beasley DMG. Diethylene glycol poisoning. Clin Toxicol (Phila) 2009; 47: 525-535.

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