Mark Mutterperl, Fulbright & Jaworski


Counterfeit Drugs, One Click Away

If it looks too good to be true.... The price is unbeatable, the Web site proudly displays an accreditation seal of approval, medicines are advertised as "generics" of the branded versions (implying bioequivalence with respect to safety and efficacy), and patients never have to leave their homes. Marcia Bergeron, a 57-year-old Canadian resident likely had these things in mind when she purchased antianxiety and sedative medication from an online pharmacy. The pills she received from the Web site, however, caused hair loss and vision problems, and ultimately resulted in her death. The coroner's toxicology report showed that the pills she purchased online were laced with traces of dangerous metals, including uranium, strontium, selenium, aluminum, and arsenic. Bergeron, like many others around the world, was a victim of the counterfeit-medicine business, an industry that the US-based Center for Medicine in the Public Interest (CMPI) predicts will reach $75 billion in sales globally by 2010.