Fake medicines are responsible for the death and suffering of untold numbers of patients. A wide range of counterfeit medicines, including antibiotics, steroids, analgesics and heart drugs, allegedly made by reputable pharmaceutical companies, are sold. In some cases, high quality generic drugs are packaged and sold as originals, but more frequently the counterfeit drugs contain few or none of the active ingredients. The fakes can cost up to 60% less than their authentic counterparts.
Illegal drugs are also subject to counterfeiting. MDMA counterfeits are common. Some of them are more dangerous than the original, some have no active ingredients at all.
The major producers of counterfeit drugs are in Europe, and the largest groups of clients are in the Third World. The escalating trade in fake medicines is estimated to cost the British pharmaceutical industry more than £10 million a year. By far the largest supplier of these type of medicines is Italy and a large number of the manufactures and middle men are involved with organized crime.
Counterfeits of illegal drugs tend to originate in the United States. They are sold via the Internet, where one can also find the recipes.