wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05TAIPEI2742
2005-06-23 22:33:00
UNCLASSIFIED
American Institute Taiwan, Taipei
Cable title:  

COUNTERFEIT PHARMACEUTICALS SOLD ON INTERNET

Tags:   KIPR  ECON  ETRD  TW  IPR 
pdf how-to read a cable
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TAIPEI 002742 

SIPDIS

STATE PLEASE PASS TO AIT/W AND EAP/RSP/TC

STATE ALSO PASS USTR FOR WINELAND/WINTERS/FREEMAN
REF: TAIPEI 1033

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KIPR ECON ETRD TW IPR
SUBJECT: COUNTERFEIT PHARMACEUTICALS SOLD ON INTERNET



1. SUMMARY: PROMPTED BY AN INVESTIGATIVE NEWS
REPORT THAT INTERNET SALES OF THE POPULAR WEIGHT
LOSS DRUG REDUCTIL (MANUFACTURED BY ABBOTT
LABORATORIES) INCLUDED COUNTERFEIT PRODUCTS,
SPECIAL AGENTS OF CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION BUREAU
RAIDED A RESIDENCE IN TAIPEI COUNTY MAY 24 AND
ARRESTED ONE SUSPECT. THE SUSPECT TOLD POLICE THAT
SHE HAD BOTH PURCHASED AND SOLD THE PRODUCTS
ONLINE AND WAS UNAWARE THAT THEY WERE COUNTERFEIT.
ABBOTT'S TAIWAN MANAGER ESTIMATED THAT AS MUCH AS
20 PERCENT OF REDUCTIL SALES IN TAIWAN COULD BE
COUNTERFEITS. END SUMMARY.

PRESS BREAKS THE COUNTERFEITING CASE


--------------------------





2. ON MAY 24, THE UNITED DAILY NEWS REPORTED THAT
COUNTERFEIT REDUCTIL, A POPULAR WEIGHT LOSS DRUG,
WAS BEING SOLD OVER THE INTERNET. JOURNALISTS
DISCOVERED THAT A 26 YEAR-OLD NURSERY WORKER,
IDENTIFIED AS CHANG MEI-TING, CLAIMING TO BE A
NURSE, PARTICIPATED IN ONLINE DISCUSSIONS ABOUT
HEALTH AND WEIGHT LOSS AND OFFERED TO SELL
REDUCTIL PURCHASED ABROAD AT BELOW TAIWAN MARKET
PRICES. THE ONLINE DISCUSSION REPORTEDLY REACHED
OVER 50,000 INTERNET USERS.

LOOKS JUST LIKE THE REAL THING!


--------------------------





3. JOURNALISTS BOUGHT REDUCTIL FROM CHANG AND
SENT THEM TO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH (DOH), TAIPEI
CITY GOVERNMENT, AND ABBOTT LABORATORIES SERVICES
(TAIWAN) CORP. FOR TESTING. THE RESULTS OF THE
TEST INDICATED THAT THE REDUCTIL SOLD BY CHANG DID
CONTAIN THE SAME ACTIVE INGREDIENT (SIBUTRAMINE)
CONTAINED IN GENUINE REDUCTIL, AND AT CLOSE TO THE
SAME DOSAGE (14.64MG, AS COMPARED TO 15MG.)
HOWEVER, THE DIRECTOR OF DOH'S TESTING CENTER
IDENTIFIED THE PRODUCT AS COUNTERFEIT BASED ON THE
COLOR OF THE CAPSULE. IN ITS PUBLIC REPORT, DOH
EMPHASIZED THAT COUNTERFEIT PHARMACEUTICAL
PRODUCTS COULD CONTAIN A FULL DOSAGE OF ACTIVE
INGREDIENTS BUT STILL BE COUNTERFEIT AND WERE NOT
RELIABLE.



4. THE TESTS CONDUCTED BY ABBOTT LABORATORIES
SERVICES (TAIWAN) CORP. FOR 3 REDUCTIL CAPSULES
SOLD ON THE INTERNET SHOWED THAT THE ACTIVE
INGREDIENT CONTAINED IN EACH CAPSULE EXCEEDED THE
5 PERCENT VARIATION TOLERANCE LEVEL SET BY THE
AUTHORITIES, PROVING THAT THE REDUCTIL SOLD ON THE
INTERNET WAS A COUNTERFEIT PRODUCT. THE MANAGER
OF ABBOTT LABORATORIES SERVICE CO. (TAIWAN)
IDENTIFIED THE REDUCTIL SOLD ON THE INTERNET AS
USING ABBOTT'S GERMAN PACKAGING BUT CONTAINING
PILLS THAT RESEMBLED ABBOTT'S AMERICAN PRODUCT.

HOW TO USE THE INTERNET TO MAKE BIG BUCKS!


--------------------------





5. SUSPECT CHANG MEI-TING TOLD INVESTIGATORS THAT
SHE PURCHASED THE COUNTERFEIT REDUCTIL FROM AN
INTERNET CONTACT, WHO TOLD HER THAT THE PRODUCT
WAS A PARALLEL IMPORT FROM LICENSED FIRMS IN
AUSTRALIA AND GERMANY. CHANG SAID SHE PURCHASED
REDUCTIL FROM HER INTERNET SUPPLIER AT A PRICE OF
NT$2,000/PER 28 CAPSULES (ABOUT US$62) AND SOLD AT
PRICES OF NT$2,800-3,000/PER 28 CAPSULES (US$90)
OVER THE INTERNET. MARKET PRICE OF GENUINE GOODS
IS NT$4,000/PER 28 CAPSULES (US$125).



6. CLAIMING THAT THEIR PRODUCTS ARE PARALLEL
IMPORTS IS A COMMON TACTIC AMONG COUNTERFEITERS.
ABBOTT LABORATORIES SERVICE (TAIWAN) CO. AND
EXPERTS FROM TAIWAN'S NATIONAL YANG MING
UNIVERSITY TOLD THE PRESS THAT PRODUCERS OF
COUNTERFEIT PRODUCTS COULD IMPORT GENERIC BULK
PHARMACEUTICALS TO MAKE AND PACKAGE CAPSULES IN
TAIWAN.

FAKE DRUG SALES ON INTERNET=SERIOUS PENALTIES


--------------------------

-



7. A SPOKESMAN FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH NOTED
THAT SALE OF PHARMACEUTICALS OVER THE INTERNET WAS
ILLEGAL IN TAIWAN. A FINE OF NT$30,000-150,000
(ABOUT US$1000-5000) CAN BE IMPOSED ON VIOLATORS
IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PHARMACEUTICAL AFFAIRS LAW.
MOREOVER, A PERSON SELLING COUNTERFEIT OR
PROHIBITED PHARMACEUTICALS WILL BE SUBJECT TO A
JAIL SENTENCE OF NOT MORE THAN 7 YEARS AND/OR FINE
OF UP TO NT$5 MILLION (US$156,000). IN ADDITION
TO THE PUNISHMENT STIPULATED IN THE PHARMACEUTICAL
AFFAIRS LAW, THE SUSPECT COULD ALSO FACE FRAUD
CHARGES. PAAL