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The pharmaceutical industry is drowning in counterfeit medicines. And it is also becoming harder to identify them.

In 2018 alone, the number of counterfeit seizures soared by 63% from the previous year. Last year, Hong Kong customs announced its largest counterfeit medicine bust in a decade. And in today’s heightened health awareness because of COVID-19, the situation will only get worse.

Hong Kong residents understand the importance of identifying counterfeit medicine. Yet, a recent survey by Zuellig Pharma showed a vast majority of Hong Kong residents are “unlikely and unconfident” to verify their medicine.  

Part of the problem is a poor understanding of drug verification which counterfeiters exploit. The survey noted that 88% of respondents were unaware of what counterfeit medicines are.

Generic medicines cloud the picture further with over half (52%) incorrectly believing that counterfeit medicines are the same as generic medicines.

A generic medicine contains the same chemical ingredient as the original one, but was previously protected by chemical patents. Counterfeit medicine can include products with wrong ingredients, insufficient or without active ingredients, or with fake packaging.

Although 91% of Hong Kong people place great importance on verifying medicines, the survey found more than half are unlikely to verify the authenticity (57%) and are not confident in verifying (58%). 

Read the full article on CDO Trends.