Counterfeit medicines - the quintessential borderless crime


The global spread of counterfeit pharmaceuticals presents a formidable challenge to public health. WIPR asked lawyers from Baker & McKenzie offices around the world about this growing menace and what IP rights owners can do.

Over 10 percent of medicines sold in developing countries and one percent sold in developed countries are thought to be counterfeit—and the problem is growing. It is the quintessential borderless crime.

A key factor is the convenience, globalisation and anonymity of the Internet, which has spurred the proliferation of Internet pharmacies. Another is China, which has become a vast production house for both genuine and counterfeit pharmaceutical products. From there, counterfeit medicines are commonly shipped for packaging elsewhere and distributed through various transit hubs before reaching their final destinations all around the globe.

Only an internationally co-ordinated strategy can seriously disrupt the widespread counterfeit medicine production and distribution network: a purely reactive or piecemeal approach is doomed.

Anti-counterfeiting, pharmaceuticals