PARIS, April 10 French customs said on Thursday
they had seized a stash of 10 tonnes of fake aspirin and
erectile dysfunction and diarrhoea drugs from China in what they
billed as the European Union's biggest-ever seizure of
Officials seized the 2.4 million counterfeit drugs, hidden
in two containers and declared as Chinese tea, at the port of Le
Havre in late February, the customs office said in a statement.
A customs official told Reuters that four brands, including
Viagra and Cialis - products of Pfizer and Eli Lilly
- had been counterfeited.
The fake aspirin and anti-diarrhoea drugs contained no
active ingredient other than sugar, while the fake erectile
dysfunction drugs did contain an active ingredient but dosed
differently than the original product, the official said.
The shipment, estimated to be worth around 1 million euros
($1.38 million), had been imported from Belgium but at this
stage it was not known to which markets it was destined.
French customs caught some 1.4 million fake drugs last year
- the most commonly seized products ahead of clothes.
But shipments as big as the latest case are exceptional. In
96 percent of cases, counterfeit drugs crossed borders in modest
postal packets, and the drugs seized are mainly fake drugs for
erectile dysfunction, the customs official said.
"We're talking about people who don't dare to go to the
pharmacy, who order the drugs online at attractive prices but
have no idea what they're getting," he said.
($1 = 0.7234 Euros)
(Reporting by Natalie Huet; Editing by Mark Heinrich)