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Counterfeit Medicines Live Chat
Log-on to a live web chat on counterfeit medicines this Friday.

As millions turn to illicit online sources to buy medicines, new research highlights the extent to which people in the UK are fuelling the fake medicines boom with one in eight British adults surveyed (12%)1 bypassing the healthcare system to get hold of prescription only medicines without a prescription.

Show date: Friday 19th February
Show time: 12:30

The latest statistics estimate the counterfeit medicines market in Europe to be worth more than €10.5 billion with Brits pumping over €442 million into this black market economy every year1,2.

Across Europe the picture is even worse – Germans are the worst offenders with 38% of those surveyed admitting to buying prescription only medicines from illicit sources. Other major offenders include Italians (37%), Spaniards (30%), Norwegians (30%), Austrians (27%) and the Irish (21%)1.

The harsh reality is that counterfeit medicines can contain harmful ingredients such as rat poison, boric acid and lead paint3,4. They’re often produced by people with no appropriate qualifications5 and can include too much, too little or none of the active ingredient they should include6,7. As a result, fake medicines can and do cause serious harm to patients, which can sometimes lead to death7.

Jim Thomson, Chair of the European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicine says: ‘When people buy prescription medicines without a prescription, they stand an extremely good chance of receiving a fake. If you want to be healthy and stay healthy – see a healthcare professional and only take prescription only medicines prescribed by a legitimate healthcare practitioner.’

There are many reasons why people look to the internet to get hold of prescription medicine without a prescription, of those that were surveyed in the UK, reasons cited included that medicine obtained online is cheaper than a prescription (21%) and they wanted to avoid the hassle of visiting a healthcare professional (28%)1.

 If you are concerned about the authenticity of the medicine you are taking, log on to this webTV show and ask Jim Thomson, Chair of the European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines how you can get the right medicine and stay healthy.

Jim Thomson joins us live online at on Friday 19th February at 12:30 to discuss black market medicine

Jim Thomson is a campaigner on patient safety issues – in particular counterfeit medicine. Jim has been Chair of the European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines (EAASM) since it was founded in 2007.

The EAASM campaigns against counterfeit medicines and promotes patient safety around Europe.

Click here to submit questions before the show

For more information visit



1.     Nunwood survey data November 2009. Online consumer survey, participants 14,000. Countries included the UK, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Finland and Ireland.

2.     Nunwood Market Population stats 2008

3.     Solomon, S. BC Woman killed by fake drugs bought online. National Review of Medicine. 2007; 4:13

4.     Pfizer data on file

5.     European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines: The Counterfeiting Superhighway, 2008, Medicom

6.     WHO factsheet. Counterfeit medicines. Last revised 14 November 2006. Last accessed November 2009 from

7.     WHO and IMPACT factsheet. Counterfeit drugs kill! Last accessed November 2009 from


This web chat activity was organised and funded by Pfizer as part of its ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the dangers of counterfeit medicine. As part of the Cracking Counterfeit Europe activity, Pfizer provided funding to the EAASM in support of their patient safety work.

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