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Counterfeit drugs

Around 35% of the medication sold in the Middle East is fake, compared to just 1% in the US. Kipp examines the threat posed by this $75 billion global trade, and what regional policymakers are doing about it.

March 15, 2010 7:50 by

A bitter pill

Figures from the World Health Organization suggest that up to 35 percent of all drugs in the Middle East may be fake, compared to less than 1 percent in the U.S. and Western Europe, according to a report in February’s Wall Street Journal.

The UAE faces a particular challenge, with smugglers abusing UAE ports and free zone areas to transit the contraband, ultimately bound for international destinations.  In 2007, the World Health Organization estimated that counterfeit drugs may account for as much as 30 percent of all the goods seized in UAE ports.

According to the World Health Organization, “counterfeit medicines are deliber¬ately and fraudulently mislabeled with respect to identity or source: their quality is unpredictable as they may contain the wrong amount of active ingredients, wrong ingredients or no active ingredients”. In the most sinister cases, fake drugs can contain dangerous or even toxic chemicals that can harm or kill.


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