Thousands of counterfeit drugs infiltrate Australian hospitals

Source:Xinhua Published: 2017/2/23 14:01:51

The Australian healthcare sector was rocked on Tuesday evening, with details of a 2010 report revealing that thousands of counterfeit prescription pills have infiltrated the New South Wales medical supply chain and even made it to the Sydney Children's Hospital.

Alarms were raised when a healthcare worker was administering a child with the drug Viagra to treat the condition of pulmonary hypertension.

The staff member noticed there were inconsistencies in the appearance of the tablets and the hospital contacted the manufacturer Pfizer to investigate.

"There could have been serious consequences had babies been treated with the counterfeits, it's extremely alarming that this happened," New South Wales deputy chief pharmacist Bruce Battye told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

As a result of the incident, one of Australia's largest medical distributors, Symbion, had their license pulled after it was revealed pharmacist Mina Attia told investigators he bought the drugs from an unlicensed supplier.

It's believed the stock went to around 260 pharmacies and three hospitals and although Symbion recalled all of its stock immediately following the 2010 scandal, it has refused to name the hospitals.

At the moment the company is fighting in court to have its license reinstated, claiming they have learned from their mistakes and only authorise drug purchases directly from manufacturers.

Some healthcare professional believe this is merely the tip of the iceberg, with huge counterfeit pharmaceutical operations being carried out in Asia and South America. The fake medicine trade is estimated to be a multi-billion dollar business.

"I don't think a lot of it is being detected," counterfeit drug investigator ken Gamble said.

"We have done a number of orders into Australia doing trap purchases, test buys -- none of our orders have been stopped. So, that's an indication they're not getting everything by any means."

"Antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, you see them all. Even some of the well-known sleeping tablets, but the big business, the big money is in sexual enhancement."

Posted in: ASIA-PACIFIC

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