As counterfeiting continue to grow in the market and could hardly be recognized with the advancement of technology, new places which are least expected to house large counterfeiting manufacturers are being revealed. The latest to join the list is Pakistan.
Pakistan’s bustling markets are filled with kiosk after kiosk selling pills, capsules, tablets, and syrups of all types, for every type of ailment. It’s almost impossible to tell which ones are genuine, and which are potentially deadly fakes. Just like other cities found to be the hub of counterfeiting (Jakarta, Indonesia had been the latest before the gray markets of Pakistan were found), fraudsters hide beneath the conundrum of a developing nation.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that as many as one million people die every year worldwide from ingesting counterfeit medications.
In Pakistan, in 2012, in one incident alone, 120 people died after taking counterfeit heart medicine. These medicines may not have any active ingredient of active substance that can cure the disease but are brought anyway because of cheaper price.
According to the Peterson Group, a non-profit organization campaigning against counterfeit medicines and its proliferation, these scammers transfer from one country to another once that their current post has been determined. With the lack of security in the country that they transfer into, they have the advantage to leave without any trace and with ease. Sometimes, they even get assistance from the authorities just with the help of a little bribery.
There are also times when the fraudsters do not work with a big bogus operation. Because of the demand and the harshness of life, they are forced to sell counterfeit medicines with little understanding of how they could negatively impact another person’s health and life.
In CNN’s exclusive interview with one of the makers and vendors of counterfeited medicines, he explained, “We make everything here, whatever is in high demand in the market place”.
The report continues, “The dusty, dirty operation moves swiftly as the man continues his show and tell ÔÇÿIn all of these capsules and bottles we put the same ingredients. And all of the syrup is the same syrup. Only the color is different’”.
Although the country has already created Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan since 2010, the problem is still massive. 45-50% of Pakistani drugs were fake or of substandard quality. The government is currently being asked of their side of the story but has but has not yet responded.