Chinese counterfeiters are scurrying for cover as the government criminalized the manufacture of fake medicines earlier this year. Police have busted more than 1,400 illegal drug dens and locked up eight sex-pill makers in the past month in an effort to deflate an estimated $3 billion worth of pseudo drugs.
Seeking to curb what is reportedly the world’s fastest-growing pharmaceutical market, the Chinese government raised the maximum penalty for manufacturing counterfeit drugs to the death sentence. Still, estimates from IMS Health indicate that production of fake drugs will increase 17 percent to $48 billion.
Pharmaceutical companies are understandably upset at the burgeoning market, with Bloomberg reporting that the illegal sales cost the industry significant lost revenue and damage the reputations of their authentic medicines.
Of China’s estimated $3 billion in sales of counterfeit medicines, health care products and medical equipment, about 40 percent was exported, according to a United Nations report. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration told Bloomberg that the biggest problem for the U.S. tends to come in the form of fake erectile dysfunction, diet and mental illness pills.
Pfizer Inc. feels that pain. The pharmaceutical giant has found counterfeit versions of its impotence treatment, Viagra, in 101 countries, many of which came from China, India or Pakistan. Viagra accounted for nearly $2 billion of the company’s revenue last year.
For more on the serious battle against fake pharmaceutical counterfeiters, read Bloomberg.