Counterfeit Drugs and Fake Medicine Statistics

  • ** Click to view value source
  1. Value of the Fake Drugs Market:$200 Billion

Counterfeit Drugs

Latest counterfeit drugs statistics and news about fake medicines. Data about the substandard pills are collected from public health officials, global organizations and other public information sources.

A 10 day crackdown against counterfeit drugs coordinated by Interpoal in May 11 to 21, 2014 lead to 8.4 million doses of fake drugs.

237 people were arrested worldwide and 10,603 websites that were selling counterfeit medicines were shut down.

Fake pills being sold to the public included diet pills ad controlled pharmacy pills such as diazepam, anabolic steroids and erectile dysfunction pills.

In the United Kingdom, security agents seized fake drugs worht $31.3 Million (£18.6 Million). 72 percent of the counterfeit drugs seized in Britain were made in India, followed by 11 percent from China.

(Additional counterfeit drugs statistics.)

Source:  Ben Hirschler, “Fake medicines worth 18.6 million pounds seized in global crackdown,” Reuters, May 22, 2014.

Security services and public health programs in Liberia are attempting to crack down on the market in counterfeit drugs.

In six months, authorities have arrested 10 people for selling counterfeit drugs in the country. The campaign began in July 2013 in an attempt to stop the trade in fake drugs.

Buyers and sellers of counterfeit drugs state that they have no choice but to buy the drugs. One buyer interviewed by the media stated that he pays $3 for a single anti-malaria pill sold in a legitimate pharmacy. A counterfeit version of the drug is sold on the street for $1.50.

Sellers of counterfeit drugs state that they have no other way of making an income in the country.

(Additional counterfeit goods statistics.)

Source:  “Counterfeit drug war in Liberia,” IRIN, January 29, 2014.

According to various media reports, women who are pregnant in the United Kingdom are buying abortion pills at online websites that sell the pill on the black market.

The women are paying $128 (£78) for an abortion pill that they buy from websites. The abortion pills are sold by East Asian organized crime gangs selling the pills online.

In 2013, authorities shut down over 1,200 websites that were illegally selling medicines and pills to customers in the United Kingdom.

Health agencies have stated that buying abortion pills online can have a negative impact on a woman’s health, and may even cause death if the dosage are wrong. Women in the UK can visit abortion clinics and other public health programs for confidential appointments.

The sale of abortion pill is not just concentrated in the UK. Women in the United States also buy pills to induce abortions from black market sources as well. Women in Texas have been reported buying an abortion pill for $40 on the Mexican border.

(Additional statistics about prescription drug abuse.)

Source:  Lizzie Dearden, “Pregnant teenage girls taking deadly black market abortion pills, investigation finds,” Independent, January 25, 2014.


According to statistics released by state media, security services in China arrested nearly 60,000 people for violating intellectual property in 2013. The total estimated value of the counterfeits and fakes seized by China was $28 Billion (173 Billion Yuan).

Over 90 million tons of counterfeit goods were seized by security services across China in 2013. Included in the seizures were 300 million counterfeit drug pills worth $360 Million.

1,260 organized crime gangs who were involved in counterfeiting were also broken up during the year.

Source:  Associated Press, “China Seized 60,000 Piracy Suspects Last Year,” ABC News, January 21, 2014.

An organized crime ring in Turkey was broken up by police for selling counterfeit drugs to patients in Turkey and the United States. The ring was packaging flu medicine that was worth $1.34 (3 Turkish Lira), and selling the medicine as fake cancer drugs to cancer patients for $671 (1,500 Lira). The sellers would track cancer patients and approach them outside hospitals and were even able to get their counterfeit drugs into pharmacies.

Security officials in Turkey has seized approximately 2 million packages of counterfeit drugs between 2010 and 2012. The value of the fakes were worth $2.6 Million (6 Million Liras). 750 websites were shut down during the time period for selling counterfeit drugs in Turkey.

Most of the fake medicines are sold on the Internet or on the black market by relatives. Counterfeits have also been able to enter the pharmacy supply chain. In February 2013, counterfeited versions of the cancer drug Avastin was bought in Turkey and then shipped across the Middle East and Europe.

Source:   “Turkey fights back against counterfeit medications,” Jornal of Turkish Weekly, January 18, 2014.

In the second half of 2013, security services in China arrested over 1,300 people who were selling counterfeit drugs on the Internet. Along with the arrests, officials in 29 provincial regions shut down 140 websites that were selling drugs on the Internet.

Over nine tons of raw materials that were being used to produce fake and substandard drugs were seized in factories across China during the year. Most of the raw materials were starch or spoiled materials, along with psychedelic and poisonous ingredients.

Source:  Dexter Roberts, “China Cracks Down on Bad Drugs with “Illegal, Psychedelic or Poisonous Ingredients”,” Bloomberg Businessweek, December 17, 2013.

According to the Chairman of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Hong Kong, up to 90 percent of all cancer drugs in Hong Kong are bought by residents of mainland China.

The mainlanders illegally buy the cancer drugs such as Herceptin in Hong Kong due to concerns about the medical counterfeit drugs and other safety issues. In addition, the cost to purchase drugs is cheaper than on the mainland. One man who was buying breast cancer treatment drugs for his wife stated that he would saave over $1,313 (8,000 Yuan) buying Herceptin in Hong Kong than in China.

Source:  AFP, “Hong Kong’s illegal cancer drug trade driven by mainland buyers,” Google News, December 2, 2013.

The director of the Tax and Customs enforcement agency in Colombia stated that the profit margin for criminals selling counterfeit drugs is between 500 to 1,000 percent. For example, a fake Viagra pill that costs $1 to manufacture can be sold for $5 to $10.

Intelligence analysts state that cost of the counterfeit drugs being sold in Colombia was manufactured in Ecuador, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.

From 2012 to the middle of 2013, the various agencies of the criminal justice system in Colombia seized over 5 million fake and contraband drugs. These medicines included drugs past its expiration date, drugs that were falsely labeled, and other drugs filled with flour or cement.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that 30 percent of the drugs sold across Latin America are counterfeits.

Source:  Natalie Southwick, “Colombia Pharmaceutical Trafficking ‘Has 1,000% Profits Margins’,” Insight Crime, October 28, 2013.

A survey conducted by accounting company PwC found that 18 percent of consumers in Britain admitted to purchasing counterfeit alcohol. 16 percent reported purchasing counterfeit drugs such as Viagra and weight-loss pills. And 13 percent admitted to buying counterfeit cigarettes.

British consumers between the ages of 18 to 34 bought the most counterfeits, with 60 percent saying that they bought pirated movies and music and 55 percent have bought replica clothing.

Source:  Rebecca Smithers, “Surge in purchases of counterfeit goods,” Guardian, October 1, 2013.

In the first half of 2013, security officers in Germany seized 1.4 million counterfeit drugs. The number of fake medicines seized was 15 percent higher than the amount seized in the first half of 2012.

According to security experts, the profit margin for a counterfeit drug such as fake Viagra can be as high as 25,000 percent.

Source:  Heimo Fischer, “Fat profits behind steady rise in fake drugs worldwide,” Deutsche Welle, September 30, 2013.