Counterfeiting is very common in some Asian countries. It can involve clothing or cosmetics but it also affects the pharmaceutical sector. As a matter of fact, around 40% of pharmaceutical crimes arise in Asia.
While many consumers do not always care about clothing or cosmetic counterfeits, they should be extremely careful with medicine. Fake medicines can be deadly, for instance pills containing paint, toxic chemical or even boric acid, can even kill. According to Interpol reports, around 1 million people are killed by counterfeit medicine every year. About 5% of medicines in Malaysia are counterfeits and the pharmaceutical market never stops growing. Plus, counterfeit drugs are more likely to be found on sale on the internet as many men feel more comfortable with buying medicine online especially when it comes to medication for sexual dysfunction.
Aiming to raise awareness on counterfeit drugs, Pfizer organized a campaign in Malaysia with the Ministry of Health, the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society and the Malaysian Urological Association. This campaign is called “Spot the fake” and is aimed to raise public awareness on fundamental issues and risks of counterfeit medicines.
Many actions were taken: booklets are already available at pharmacies and some training programs are being organized. An educational website was even created for this special campaign at www.spotthefake.com.my where people can learn the importance of the campaign, and how to actually distinguish a fake pill from a genuine one.
At the event launching mid-June, John McKendry, Pfizer Malaysia country manager said “Our goal is to make access to medicines safer and build a community of discerning patients who equip themselves with the knowledge to ask the right questions and seek the right channels”. [Sources: www.spotthefake.com.my and the star online]