Pfizer takes on counterfeiters

Pharma giant Pfizer is engaged in a two-pronged attack on drug counterfeiters. The maker of Viagra--among the drugs most targeted by counterfeiters--is actively involved in tracking the crooks at the same time it educates a distracted public about the dangers of fakes.

The big pharma worked with Immigration & Customs Enforcement agents in Houston to catch Kum Leung Chow, owner of Kingdom International Enterprises, who now faces federal felony charges for trafficking in counterfeit goods and selling misbranded pharmaceuticals.

Pfizer investigative staff approached the customs agents about the Viagra knock-offs being sold online. Agents then arranged the first of several controlled deliveries. And they went to Pfizer and Lilly labs for testing of the pills, confirming them as counterfeits.  

Separately, Pfizer published research and launched an Internet site concerning the use of counterfeits in Europe. In surveys last fall, it found "a massive black market economy generated by counterfeit medicines," the company says. Its Cracking Counterfeit Europe report, published in mid-February, finds that 20 percent of the 14,000 survey-takers admitted to buying prescription-only medicines from illicit sources. Some 5 percent said they believed a drug purchased without a prescription online was always genuine. Pfizer estimates that as much as 90 percent of medicines bought online are fake or may contain too little or none of the active ingredient.

- see a chronicle of the Chow incident
- read a summary of the research
- visit the counterfeiting Internet site