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Fake Drugs: CNBC takes in-depth look at the global problem

Flickr, by Rodrigo Senna

The business news channel CNBC has published an extensive report on the lucrative and growing Dangerous World of Counterfeit Prescription Drugs.

Says CNBC reporter Paul Toscano:

Counterfeit prescription pharmaceuticals are a growing trend, widely recognized as a public health risk and a serious concern to public health officials, private companies, and consumers.

In some countries, counterfeit prescription drugs comprise as much as 70 percent of the drug supply and have been responsible for thousands of deaths in some of the world’s most impoverished nations, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The report notes this is still a fairly small problem in rich countries (maybe 1 percent of all drugs), but then goes on to pretty much focus on the possible impact of fake drugs in America. CNBC apparently believes people overseas dying due to fake drugs is not as newsworthy as whatever happens at home.

Much of the CNBC report quoted regulators and representatives of the drug industry expressing concern about the quality of generic drugs and online pharmacies. Some critics of the drug industry note that this concern may have as much to do with quality as the bottom line since the industry’s profit margin is reduced substantially by generics and online sales.

Despite any such critiques or caveats, there’s no question the problem of fake drugs is significant, growing and probably bigger than current estimates. Here’s a post I did a year ago about some local experts fighting fake drugs overseas and a more recent post highlighting a series of reports by



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Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at] or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.