Page last updated at 09:26 GMT, Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Kent laboratory finds growing counterfeit drugs market

A sign outside Pfizer headquarters in New York (26/01/2009)
Tests by Pfizer reveal that some counterfeit drugs include rat poison

Drugs company Pfizer, which tests counterfeit drugs at its Kent base, has found an increase in numbers of people buying prescription drugs online.

A Cracking Counterfeit Europe report surveyed the general public and doctors across 14 European countries.

The report revealed that 15% of UK adults surveyed admitted buying prescription drugs from the internet rather than visiting their doctor.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said this could lead to medical harm.

Tests at a laboratory in Sandwich revealed that some counterfeit drugs had rat poison, boric acid and lead paint in them.

'Think twice'

Wendy Greenall, manager of the Sandwich laboratory, said: "They're [consumers] buying anything from lifestyle drugs to lifesaving medicines.

"It's easier for people with busy lives to purchase medicine from the internet without getting a prescription.

"They're sourcing the cheapest ingredients to make the tablet, as long as it looks like the genuine article they really don't care."

Dr Ian Banks, from the BMA, said: "You really should think twice before you go down what looks like the easy route rather than going to see your doctor."

Germany utilised the black market the most with 38% of those surveyed admitting they had bought drugs online without prescriptions.

Pfizer has provided all the information and intelligence gathered from the survey to all relevant health organisations and authorities.

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