The Indian government has finally improved their laws to address this important public health issue. While these new laws took five years before enactment, on August 10, India’s Ministry for Health & Family Welfare began enforcing the Drugs and Cosmetics (Amendment) Act of 2008.

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Last month, the Wall Street Journal featured an article that discussed the efforts currently underway to deter people from buying counterfeit products. It pointed out that many anti-counterfeiting messages fail to address the underlying motivation which leads people to buy counterfeit products.

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The Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) strongly believes that that no one should be able to purchase prescription drugs, including controlled substances, over the Internet without a valid prescription and physician oversight. Last year we sent every member of Congress a postcard that illustrated this face and earlier this year, my colleague Dr. Bryan Liang published a paper in the American Journal of Law & Medicine that highlights how Internet search engines support illegal online drug sales and identified three key ways we can stop “online pharmacies” from peddling their dangerous wares in cyberspace.

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After nearly two years under investigation, the final sentence for running an international multi-million pound counterfeit drug operation was issued in the United Kingdom. The first four convictions were made in September 2007 and on July 6, the final member of the operation received a 12 month sentence, suspended for two years, for masterminding an industrial scale conspiracy of supplying counterfeit drugs between 2002 and 2005. In total, the seven convicted members of this international counterfeit drug ring received a combined 17.5 years imprisonment—an average of 2.5 years for each participant—for their part in the U.K. distribution arm of a global ring operating from China, India and Pakistan, extending to the Caribbean and the United States.

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Part 2: The European Repackaging Debate – Last week we witnessed the confusing practice of repackaging of prescription medicines within the European Union (EU) through the eyes of a fictitious Dutch patient picking up his blood pressure tablets at a city retail pharmacy. The patient’s experience is shared by millions of Europeans living in Germany, Great Britain, and Holland among other countries. Under current EU rules, medicines can be re-boxed or re-labeled after they leave the site of production, and tablets can be removed from their blisters and reconditioned. Counterfeiters can exploit this fact in order to sneak their fake goods past regulators. One of the prime sources of counterfeit medicines, which can enter the drug supply at the point of repackaging, is the Internet.

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Part 1: Your critical role in safe medicines — In recent blog entries, the Partnership for Safe Medicines’ (PSM) experts have warned consumers and pharmacists of the dangers that counterfeit drugs pose, recapped legislation surrounding these issues and highlighting incidents of counterfeit drugs from across the world. However, this month we have invited guest blogger Gregory Zec to share his thoughts on some current drug safety issues. This week, Gregory uses a fictional consumer’s experiences (which he based on real patients’ stories) to explore the confusion many patients encounter from when they receive repackaged, imported prescription drugs from a legitimate pharmacy.

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That is the question that many of our lawmakers are asking. Senators Dorgan (D-ND), Snowe (R-ME), McCain (R-AZ) and Stabenow (D-MI) brought that question to the forefront when they introduced the “Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act of 2009” (S. 525) in March. Currently waiting to be placed on the Senate calendar, the bill would allow for prescription drug importation.

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April 8, 2009 President Barack Obama1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NWWashington, DC 20500 Dear Mr. President, On behalf of the Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM), a group of organizations and individuals that have policies, procedures, or programs to protect consumers from counterfeit or contraband medicines and dedicated to the safety of the drug supply, I would like…

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The cost of counterfeiting is much more than money. In too many cases, counterfeiting costs human health and in some cases lives. For example, a group of clinics in Sierra Leone were closed last week for allegedly administering counterfeit drugs. Other cases involving online drug sellers have claimed the health and lives of patients who bought from illicit Web sites.

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On May 5, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) administered a warning against General Mills regarding the claim that Cheerios® Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal has the ability to lower cholesterol. Basically, the FDA cited General Mills for marketing Cheerios® as a cholesterol-reducing drug. I believe the FDA’s points are valid and factual, but I have to ask – Shouldn’t our agency watchdog be focusing greater attention on the operators of thousands of Web sites and

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