Belgians order increasingly more counterfeit drugs

Summary

Belgian customs and police worked together to stop 1.5 million counterfeit drugs from reaching consumers who ordered them on the internet

Dangerous concentrations

The Belgian customs and police intercepted 1.5 million counterfeit medications last year, which is 230 times more than the 6,421 found in 2012. This huge increase can be explained in part by a special international police operation.

“In one week, they took down 10,000 fake pharmacy websites in 111 countries all over the world,” said Francis Adyns of the federal finance department. “In Belgium, 331 websites that were directed towards the local market had to close.”

Many of the intercepted drugs didn’t contain any therapeutic substance at all, but others contained dangerous concentrations, such as an overdose of insulin for diabetes patients.

The fake medications are popular because they are cheaper, you don’t need a prescription, and you can order them online. “But people order exactly the medicines that carry the biggest risk: pills for the heart, the blood pressure and diabetes,” said KU Leuven toxicologist Jan Tytgat. “A wrong dose of substances in the medicines can cost patients their lives.”

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