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.

The United States Customs seized $16.8 Million worth of counterfeit drugs in FY 2011, an increase of roughly $11 Million from FY 2010.

1,239 seizures by the US Customs involved counterfeit drugs, representing 9 percent of the total counterfeit goods seized during the year.

Source: Phil Taylor, “US counterfeit drug seizures up 200 per cent in 2011,” Securing Pharma, January 19, 2012.

During July 2009 and July 2011, police in China investigated over 42,000 cases of counterfeit drugs and shut down 1,093 illegal websites that were selling fake drugs.

Source: “China to maintain iron-handed policy on counterfeit drugs,” Xinhua, December 20, 2011.

The sales of counterfeit products in Indonesia causes tax losses of up to $4.8 Billion (43.2 Trillion Indonesian Rupiahs) in 2010.

The following is the percentage of counterfeit goods that make up all sales in that category:

Product                     Counterfeit Percentage

Leather products              35.7

Software                             34.1

Automotive Parts             16.8

Electronic goods              13.7

Cigarettes                          11.5

Beverages                          8.9

Pesticides                          7.7

Cosmetics                          6.4

Drugs                                  3.5

Source: “Fake products cost RI Rp 43.2t in lost taxes,” Jakarta Post, November 5, 2011.


During a four month long campaign against counterfeit drugs in 2011, Chinese authorities seized over 65 million counterfeit drugs and arrested 114 people.

During the seizures of fake medicines, police found  starch, corn powder, animal feed and chemical pigments in the factories that were used to make the counterfeit drugs.

Source: Associated Press, “China seizes 65M counterfeit pills, some harmful,” Google News, November 4, 2011.

The drug inspector for the United States Food and Drug Administration reported that 80 percent of the active ingredient in medical drugs and 40 percent of all finished medical drugs are imported in to the United States from other countries. Due to the high level of imports, the potential risk for counterfeit drugs entering the supply chain is high.

After counterfeit drugs of heparin were imported from China in 2007, the FDA increased drug inspections in China from a few in 2007 to over 80 in 2010.

Source:Associated Press, “China cracks fake drug ring, seizing 114, as US FDA official urges vigilance,” Washington Post, October 31, 2011.

The World Trade Organization reports that between 2.5 to 5 percent of government’s tax revenue is lost due to the sale of counterfeit drugs worldwide.

Source: Shilpa Kannan, “Counterfeit drugs targeted by technology in India,” BBC News, October 11, 2011.

Counterfeit anti-malaria pills causes the deaths of 100,000 people in Africa each year, according to the World Trade Organization.

Source: Shilpa Kannan, “Counterfeit drugs targeted by technology in India,” BBC News, October 11, 2011.

Drug maker Pfizer has reported that counterfeit versions of their drugs has been found in at least 101 countries.

40 different types of their products were found within those countries, including counterfeit Viagra, Lipitor and Zoloft.

(See all counterfeit drugs statistics.)

Source: Associated Press, “More counterfeit medications being sold to consumers,” MSNBC, September 29, 2011.

In a one-week period, authorities in the United Kingdom shut down nearly 13,000 websites that were selling counterfeit drugs. The websites were mostly operated by Chinese or Russian organized crime groups, with the actual production of the counterfeit drugs being made in China or India.

Source: Sarah Boseley, “Fake drugs worth £4m seized in global crackdown,” Guardian, September 29, 2011.

The World Health Organization reports that counterfeit drugs makes up to 30 percent of the total medicine market in Ghana. A large portion of the fakes are imported from Nigeria.

Source: “The struggle to prevent import of counterfeit drugs in Ghana,” Newstime Africa, August 27, 2011.