The circulation of deadly counterfeit medicines
The Drug Enforcement Administration issued a Public Safety Alert warning Americans about the alarming surge in the lethality and availability of online prescription medicine containing fentanyl and methamphetamine. The warning applies to counterfeit pills made to appear like authentic Vicodin, Oxycontin, Adderall, and Xanax, which are widely available in e-commerce. Counterfeit pills containing these deadly and highly addictive narcotics are more harmful and more readily available than ever before, DEA said.
The widespread circulation of lethal counterfeit medicines has led to a significant increase in overdose cases. According to The News, more than 9.5 million counterfeit drugs have been seized this year, higher compared to the previous two years combined. The great majority were made in Mexico, with China supplying chemicals for fentanyl production in the country.
In Indonesia, although no online prescription medicine containing deadly drugs has been reported, circulation of counterfeit medicines and supplements, especially in e-commerce, are increasing since the onset of the pandemic. According to a source, while other industries have experienced a decrease in demand, the pharmaceutical demand has increased significantly. The increased demand creates more opportunities for counterfeit medicine dealers.
With the pandemic, the already rapidly expanding trend of online shopping exploded. The imposition of global-scale social distancing, travel bans, and the closure of brick-and-mortar stores have forced businesses to fully distribute their products directly to their customers, primarily through online platforms such as e-commerce. And many people’s shopping habits have shifted to the internet due to widespread social restrictions. Of course, this opens up a wider marketing channel for the circulation of counterfeit medicine.
Following the extensive distribution of counterfeit items, including counterfeit medicines, numerous Indonesian marketplaces have taken firm actions against sellers on their platforms. These steps include the taking down of items from the platform, the closure of shops, and even the imposition of legal fines. However, to effectively tackle the distribution of counterfeit items requires collaborations between brand owners, manufacturers, the government, law enforcement, e-commerce, and related organizations to monitor the supply chain.
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