US News reports about the counterfeit drug epidemic that is bilking tens of thousands of Americans out of millions of dollars and jeopardizing many lives.
High prices and the Internet are making U.S. patents easy prey-
...the once tightly controlled, $216.4 billion U.S. drug market is being internationalized, and its safety net is increasingly full of holes. Americans are buying drugs freely and more cheaply over the Internet, often from foreign sources, but this brave new pharmaceutical world is exposing them to the dangers of unapproved and counterfeit medicines, the greed of unscrupulous doctors and pharmacists, and a shadowy world of small "secondary" drug wholesalers, "street brokers," drug "repackagers," and experienced criminals who see more profit in prescriptions than in pushing pot.
Americans pay more for drugs than residents of many other developed countries: They pay 60 percent more than the British or the Swiss for the same drugs, according to testimony before the Senate Committee on Government Affairs, and two thirds more than Canadians. It's well known that senior citizens, underinsured or uninsured individuals, and some states and local governments are turning to the Internet and foreign pharmacies, particularly what they believe to be safe, reputable Canadian pharmacies, to find less costly medications. What many don't realize, however, is that Internet pharmacies, even licensed ones in Canada, are increasingly buying from foreign sources themselves to meet American demand.
Drug imports to Canada increased 22 percent in the first eight months of 2003, including some from countries like Iran and Ecuador, where Canada has no agreement that the country's drug makers will abide by good manufacturing practices. CanadaRX, a large Canadian Internet site that buys drugs from other pharmacies, recently sent letters notifying customers that their drug shipments originated from the Bahamas...
Fake drugs, real worries [US News]