The Partnership for Safe Medicines
Weekly UpdateNovember 22, 2010
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China Announces Initiative To Monitor Search Engines For Counterfeit Drug Websites

The Chinese agency in charge of the fight against counterfeit drugs has announced a new initiative to crack down on the trafficking of illegal medications over the internet, according to the Global Times.

The State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) announced it new campaign at a press conference in Beijing. Wang Lifeng, the director of the SFDA's department of supervision, stated that the focus of the new anti-counterfeit drug campaign would be on monitoring search engines.

He further stated that because it is difficult to detect and keep track of the numerous websites that sell drugs illegally, the most efficient means of monitoring illegal online pharmaceutical transactions is through the search engines that direct consumers to the illegitimate websites.

"We will intensify our monitoring on search access services and urge them to rectify their illegal behavior," Wang Lifeng said during the press conference.

Along with the announcement of the new campaign, the SFDA released statistics on past online crackdowns. Out of nearly 300 websites that have had their licenses revoked in the past year, 66 were shut down for selling and spreading information about counterfeit drugs. The illegitimate websites primarily trafficked in drugs aimed at treating diabetes, high blood pressure, rheumatism and sexually transmitted diseases.

Currently, only 27 websites in China possess the certificate that validates individual transactions of medications. The certificates last for five years before they must be renewed.

According to Wang Lifeng, major search engines that will be monitored as part of the new initiative include and

A representative from told the news source that her company's profits depend on how effectively they promote their clients' websites, but she stated that the search engine always evaluates the clients' products' quality and suitability before offering preferential promotion.

"The funds the illegal websites invest in the search access providers is a major reason why so many networks promote the fraudulent information online," Wang Zhenhua, a Beijing-based lawyer, told the source.

Wang Zhenhua also stated that the most efficient way to fight counterfeit drug sales online lies not in monitoring search engines but in increasing availability of drugs in person.

"Providing quality-guaranteed drugs at a reasonable and acceptable price to the patients in drug stores and hospitals is the wisest way to reduce the number of online drug purchasers," he said.

Top News

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Sends Warning Letter to Illegitimate Online Pharmacy

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has sent a warning letter to an online pharmacy accused of selling controlled and unapproved substances in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), according to a press release. The pharmacy, Rx-promotion, reportedly operates nearly 300 internet domain names, through which it sells and dispenses medications. One drug the sites sell is isotretinoin, which was once commonly marketed in the United States as Accutane. Due to the medication's potentially dangerous side effects, medical practitioners and patients must register with a special FDA-operated program before being able to legally receive this medication. The letter states that "these safety controls are bypassed when this drug is purchased from foreign sources or over the internet, placing patients who use this drug at risk." (Partnership for Safe Medicines, November 9, 2010; Link here)

 Personal Computers Hijacked for Online Pharmacy Promotions

Online pharmaceutical spam organization,, has been implicated in the use of Bredolab, a botnet that hijacked personal computers to use to spread spam. KrebsOnSecurity reported that Georg Avanesov, age 27, was arrested by Armenian police on suspicion of being the curator of Bredolab, a botnet that has infected approximately 3 million computers a month. has been associated with the promotion of illegitmate online pharmacy sales and billions of spam emails.  The alleged proprietor of, , Igor A. Gusev, has been arrested by Russian authorities for operating a pharmacy without a license and with failing to register a business. (Partnership for Safe Medicines, November 9, 2010; Link here)
World News

India High Court Rules Malarial Drug Test Kits are Pharmaceutical Products

In Chennai, India, the Madras high court rules that malaria testing kits are pharmaceutical products, subject to the Drugs and Cosmetics Acts. It has ordered a detailed probe into the sale of fake malaria detection kits to city hospitals, and has asked the central and state governments to launch a campaign to spread awareness about fake drugs and medical equipment. "We feel the public at large should be sensitized on issues...and not fall prey to spurious drugs or use of improper diagnostic materials or equipment leading to improper diagnosis," the bench said, according to the Times of India. Noting that the matter required wider investigation, the judges said such investigation should be done strictly in accordance with the provisions of the act. Necessary action should be taken as early as possible, preferably within three months, the judges said. (Partnership for Safe Medicines, November 8, 2010; Link here)


Ghana: Monitors Uncover 13 Types of Counterfeit Antimalarial Drugs

Substandard and counterfeit versions of 13 antimalarial medicines have been discovered in multiple locations across Ghana by the country's Medicines Quality Monitoring surveillance program. The discovery of the counterfeits at a government-run hospital and private clinic - and being distributed through many pharmacies - has resulted in a nationwide recall of all 13 drugs, according to a statement issued by the US Pharmacopoeial Convention (USP). The names of the outlets where the counterfeits were found been publicized in the hope that this will encourage pharmacy and hospital procurement personnel to be "more vigilant about their suppliers," said the USP. "Few people fully realize the devastation that distribution of substandard or counterfeit medications can wreak on vulnerable populations," said Dr. Stephen Opuni, the Ghana drug regulator's chief executive. ("Ghanaian surveillance program uncovers fake antimalarials," Securing Pharma, November 9, 2010; Link here)


International Conference of Drug Regulatory Authorities (Singapore)


When: Tuesday, Nov 30, 2010

Where: Singapore (map)

Description: Website

About the Partnership for Safe Medicines
The Partnership for Safe Medicines is a group of organizations and individuals that have policies, procedures, or programs to protect consumers from counterfeit or contraband medicines. For more information, please visit