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.

According to company executives in India, incorporating anti-counterfeiting technology and safeguards into the production of drugs creates an additional 8 to 10 percent increase in the final cost of the medicine.

In India, up to 20 percent of all drugs sold are believed to be counterfeit.

Source:  Judy Stone, “Counterfeit Drugs: a Deadly Problem,” Scientific American, Molecules to Medicine Blog, August 20, 2012.

According to a report by the International Policy Network based in Washington, DC, up to 700,000 people die each year due to counterfeit malaria and tuberculosis drugs.

In some developing countries, up to 30 percent of all medicines being dispersed are fakes, according to the World Health Organization. Most of the counterfeit drugs in circulation are originally produced in China or India.

Source:  Natasha Khan, “China Police Arrest More Than 1,900 People in Fake-Drug Hunt,” Bloomberg Businessweek, August 5, 2012.

In 2011, Customs officials in the European Union seized 115 million counterfeit items. The fake goods were worth $1.57 Billion (1.3 Billion Euros).

73 percent of the counterfeit goods came from China. The most seized item was counterfeit drugs, which accounted 24 percent of the total.

Source: Associated Press, “EU customs says it intercepted $1.6 billion in counterfeit goods in 2011, says most from China,” Washington Post, July 24, 2012.


A scientific study conducted by the National Institute of Health in the United States found that up to one-third of all malaria drugs taken around the world is counterfeit. The fake drugs and other poor-quality drugs are causing resistance to malaria and failure of treatment.

Around the world, 3.3 billion people are at risk of malaria. It is considered an epidemic in 106 countries. Between 655,000 and 1.2 million people die every year from Malaria.

(Latest data on counterfeit drugs.)

Source:  Michelle Roberts, “Third of malaria drugs ‘are fake’,” BBC News, May 21, 2012.

The head of the Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority stated that up to 60 percent of the drugs that are on the market in Liberia are counterfeit.

The fake drugs enter the country from Guinea on the back of trucks that are not inspected at the border. Many Liberians purchase their medicines from street vendors.

Worldwide, the illegal trade in counterfeit drugs is worth $200 Billion a year.

Source:  Emmanuel Weedee, “Liberia: How Are Counterfeit Medicines Brought Into the Country,” AllAfrica, May 21, 2012.

The World Health Organization estimates that between 30 to 40 percent of all drugs and medicine in Pakistan is counterfeit. According to an official with a pharmaceutical organization, over 100 patients died at a single hospital due to taking counterfeit heart medications.

People in Pakistan spend up to 77 percent of their health budgets on medicines.

Source: Hina Mahgul Rind, “IPR challenges drive foreign pharmaceuticals away from Pakistan,” The News, May 12, 2012.

Between 2005 and 2010, the Government of Indonesia lost $4.76 Billion (43.2 Trillion Indonesian Rupiah) in tax revenue due to counterfeit drugs.

(All crime in Indonesia statistics.)

Source:  Elly Burhaini Faizalm, “Counterfeit drugs ‘a serious threat’,” Jakarta Post, April 12, 2012.

The President and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America stated that the average jail sentence in the for someone selling counterfeit drugs in the United States is 3 years.

Source:  John J. Castellani, “Counterfeit medicine threat knocking on America’s doors,” The Hill, Congress Blog, March 28, 2012.

The World Health Organization estimates that around 10 percent of all drugs around the world are counterfeit. In Less Developing countries, the percentage of counterfeit drugs in circulation could be as high as 33 percent, while in Develop countries the rate of fake drugs is less than 1 percent.

Source:  Ben Hirschler, “Spain, UK raids seize 300,000 doses of fake drugs,” Reuters, March 20, 2012.

In 2011, the percentage of counterfeit drugs and medicine in Cambodia was reported to be 0.18 percent, down from the 0.5 percent rate in 2010.

Source: Kong Sothanarith, “US Helps Fight Counterfeit Drugs in Cambodia,” Voice of America, February 27, 2012.