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Julian Mount, Pfizer’s vice-president of European trade, told the First European Parliamentary Symposium on Pharmaceuticals in Brussels on 14 May that “illegal internet trade is one part of the story. However, fake drugs have also made it into the legitimate medicines supply chainin Europe.”
The company says its particular concern in Europe is the entry of counterfeit medicines into the legitimate supply chain via parallel trade between member states, claiming that “the complex and fragmented nature of medicine distribution in Europe presents multiple opportunities”. The company says 140 million medicine packs are parallel-traded across Europe each year and “all are opened and altered and can travel through as many as 20–30 pairs of hands before finally reaching the patient”.
However Dr Heinz Kobelt, secretary-general of the European Association of Euro-Pharmaceutical Companies, dismissed Pfizer’s claim, saying there was no single reported case of a counterfeit medicine entering the legitimate supply chain in Europe via parallel trade.