LONDON (Reuters) - Counterfeit batches of Sanofi-Aventis SA’s best-selling blood-thinning drug Plavix have been discovered in the British supply chain, the country’s drugs regulator said.
The latest breach in the legitimate distribution network comes just days after the discovery of fake versions of Eli Lilly and Co’s schizophrenia drug Zyprexa.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said it had issued a market recall on the affected consignments of Plavix, to minimize the risk to patients.
The counterfeit Plavix was supplied via parallel distributors, it added.
Counterfeit medicines are a growing problem around the world, particularly in poorly regulated developing-world markets.
But criminals are also finding it a lucrative business in the West, prompting the European Parliament to hold a high-profile symposium on the subject earlier this month.
Batches of counterfeit Lipitor, Pfizer Inc.’s top-selling cholesterol drug, have also been found in Britain on several occasions in recent years.
Pfizer and other big drugmakers argue that European rules allowing so-called “parallel trade” of medicines is fuelling the counterfeit traffic. Parallel trade is the legal practice in Europe whereby drugs are imported for repackaging and resale in high-price countries, like Britain, from countries where prices are lower, such as in southern Europe.
The European Association of Euro-Pharmaceutical Companies, representing parallel traders, says drug firms are simply seeking to suppress competition.