Customs officers destroy tonne of fake-brand medicines

Customs officers have had their hands full cracking down on the smuggling of counterfeit medicines into the Czech Republic: on Tuesday, officials destroyed one tonne at an industrial furnace near Prague. Many of the items were fake-brand Viagra and also anabolic steroids, sent through the post. The destroyed items represent many thousands of crowns in illegal profits.

Counterfeit brand cigarettes, clothes and CDs are not the only items being targetted by Czech customs: more and more counterfeit medicines are a growing risk. On Tuesday, customs officers destroyed a tonne of counterfeit medicines in Kralupy nad Vlatvou, north of Prague - products intended for the Czech market. Officials, using X-rays to monitor incoming packages uncovered what was estimated as a million pills and tablets, most often sent from China, India or Hong Kong. Products included fake medicines such as Viagra and Cialis, normally only available at pharmacies on the basis of a doctor’s prescription. But while patients unwilling to consult their doctor or hoping to pay less may think they’re getting a good deal by buying over the internet, specialists say “far from it”. Stanislav Havlíček is the president of the Czech Chamber of Pharmacists:

Specialist warn strongly against the use products not gotten through a doctor’s prescription at a pharmacy: without pharmaceutical control over contents and dosage, based on a physician’s assessment, patients are buying “a pig in a poke”: anyone with heart disease or asthma could putting themselves at high risk. Sources have quoted Pfizer - the company which manufactures Viagra - as reporting samples of counterfeits uncovered in the past have shown ten times the potency: anyone with a heart problem taking such counterfeit medicine could be risking death.