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Some estimate that the illicit counterfeit medicine industry has grown in to a $200 billion a year business and comprises roughly 30% of the medicine in developing countries. Sproxil Inc. is one company that recognizes the problem and is working to create mobile-phone based technology to combat the global counterfeit drug market. Today, the threat of counterfeit medicine lies for the most part outside the U.S. But drug importation legislation could change this, inadvertently threatening the safety of our medicines supply chain.

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The Irish newspaper, Galway Independent warns consumers that pharmaceuticals are among the kinds of products most frequently faked. According to a report, the leading G20 economies collectively lose billions “in the economic cost of deaths resulting from counterfeiting” and “for the additional cost of health services to treat injuries caused by dangerous fake products.”

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"You have these gray-market suppliers that approach organizations and say, 'I have drug x,y, but it will cost you 450 percent more than what you used to pay,'" D'Amato says. "And the problem with that is those drugs don't have any integrity chain behind them so very oftentimes counterfeit drugs can get into the drug supply."

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Cancer, HIV and hemophilia medicines are among the most counterfeited medical products in Argentina. Counterfeiters have moved from lifestyle drugs to counterfeiting life-saving medicines, putting the health and safety of unsuspecting consumers at risk.
Reports like these highlight the need to keep the U.S. medicine supply chain closed and protected. Vigilance keeps the global counterfeit medicine problem largely outside our borders. However, proposed drug importation legislation could inadvertently open our borders to counterfeit imported medicine, potentially threatening the safety of our drug supply.

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We’re all used to ignoring spam for online pharmacies that we receive in our email inboxes. But did you know that medicine counterfeiters are now on Facebook? Researchers from the California Western School of Law have found that illicit online drug sellers are now using the direct-to-consumer advertising on social media platforms like Facebook to reach unsuspecting customers. Luckily, the prevalence of counterfeit medicine in the U.S. is low, but talk in Congress over drug importation could inadvertently make out closed, protected medicine supply chain vulnerable

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U.S. Attorney Jerry Martin. : “Counterfeit prescription drugs pose a significant risk to the public since these drugs are not tested for safety, content, or purity by the Food and Drug Administration. Although the internet makes it easy to order fake drugs from foreign countries, persons who sell these counterfeit drugs make illegal profits at the expense of the public’s health.”

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Beijing Drug Administration spokesman Yuan Lin said that online channels pose new challenges to anti-counterfeiting efforts. Dubious website advertisements deceivethe unsuspecting public with false information about drugs and medical equipment said to be able to cure chronic or untreatable diseases, such as kidney problems, cardiovascular diseases or cancer.

Today, Americans can largely protect themselves from counterfeit medicines by avoiding fake online pharmacies. But there’s talk in Congress of drug importation legislation that could inadvertently threaten the safety of our medicine supply chain.

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Immigration and Customs Enforcement: “A key component of ICE’s border security mission is to stop the flow of illegal, misbranded, and unapproved drugs into the United States.” Foreign drug importation, proposed in Congress, could inadvertently impair the work of federal officials to prevent potentially dangerous drugs from entering the U.S.

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