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Counterfeit Drugs: Cheating the System

From mishandled stolen shipments to repackaged fakes to scammers diluting medications, there are multiple ways phony pharmaceuticals get in the supply chain.

By Meera Lee Sethi // Infographic by Carl Detorres // Spring 2011
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When almost 20,000 fake Viagra, Cialis and Levitra pills were seized from cargo at New York’s JFK Airport in February 2011, it was the latest high-profile incident of counterfeit drugs—medications bearing false information about what they contain or where they come from—infiltrating the United States. Though the problem is more acute in developing countries—bogus malaria and tuberculosis drugs alone may kill 700,000 per year—the United States is far from immune. Here are opportunities in the U.S. drug distribution system taken by scammers to slip in drugs with less-than-sterling pedigrees.

Click on infographic for larger PDF version

counterfeit drugs infographic


Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

The FDA and pharmaceutical companies have employed a number of methods to thwart counterfeiters—yet scammers seem to have no trouble keeping up.

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