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Counterfeit (fake) medicine

The counterfeiting of medicines has developed into an industry that kills hundreds of thousands of people a year and can be associated with organised crime. Counterfeit medicines affect 10 % of the world medicines market and the resulting losses are estimated at about 500 billion euros a year.

It remains a low-risk, high-profit activity as prosecution is burdensome, sanctions are weak and inter-state cooperation is deficient. Especially worrying is the growth in sales of medicines over the Internet which could lead to uncontrolled transborder trade in medical products that could be dangerous to public health.

The Council of Europe is involved in the standardisation of medicines (European Pharmacopoeia), the European testing programme for marketed medicines supplied in pharmacies and hospitals, blood transfusion and organ transplantation, and the fight against counterfeit medicines. The "MEDICRIME" Convention, which was adopted on 8 December 2010 and is open to non-European countries, aims to combat counterfeit and illegal medicines and healthcare products, including those being offered on the Internet.

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