The most valuable items seized by customs officials in Europe for the last year were counterfeit pharmaceutical products. Customs officers seized 27 million fake medicines in 2011, according to a recently released report.
A report issued by the European Commission indicates that fake pharmaceuticals were the most valuable items detained by European-Union customs during 2011. For the previous year, customs officers seized around 115 million products suspected of being counterfeit. This total was an increase from the 103 million confiscated during 2010.
Of the products seized, approximately 24% (around 27 million products) were fake medicines. In 2010, the figure was only 3 million. Most of these were sent via the postal service.
Many of the 115 million items seized could be potentially dangerous to health and safety. This included food and beverages, body care articles, medicines, electrical household goods, and toys. The report attributes the increase of goods classed as dangerous to medicines.
In a separate memo, EC customs officials stated “In over 90 % of the detentions, the goods were either destroyed or a court case was initiated to determine the infringement. In 7,5 % of the cases, the goods were released because they appeared to be non-infringing original goods or no action was undertaken by the right-holder after receiving the notification by the customs authorities.”
The main source of the counterfeit medicines was China. In total, China accounted for 73% of the 115 million items. The second highest source of potentially dangerous medicines was from India.
Aside from medicine, the second most shipped counterfeit goods were cigarettes.
Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner for Taxation, Customs, Anti-fraud and Audit said in a press release:
“Customs is the EU's first line of defense against fake products which threaten the safety of our citizens and undermine legal businesses. Today's report shows the intensity and importance of the work being done by Customs in this field. I will continue to push for even greater protection of intellectual property rights in Europe, through our work with international partners, the industry and Member States."
Some of the seized goods can be viewed on-line at the EC audiovisual service.