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17 October 2019Big PharmaRory O'Neill

Pfizer: ‘Don’t be catfished by counterfeit drugs’

Pfizer UK has launched a new social media campaign urging people not to be “catfished” into buying counterfeit drugs.

Launched last week, Pfizer has posted videos online and on social media warning of the public health risks of counterfeit medicines.

A  video posted on YouTube features an interview with Neville Broad, manager of the counterfeit lab at Pfizer’s facility in Sandwich, Kent.

Broad said that his team has found dangerous chemicals such as lead paint, brick dust, floor polish, and boric acid in counterfeit drugs.

“In the worst case they can kill you, in the best case they just won’t work,” Broad said.

“If you’re going to purchase online, make sure you’re using an online registered pharmacy and avoid purchasing through social media sites,” he advised.

Another Pfizer  video on Facebook and Instagram likens buying counterfeit medicines to being ‘catfished’ on online dating apps such as Tinder.

‘Catfishing’ refers to using a fake online persona to lure people, such as on dating websites.

Ben Osborne, managing director at Pfizer UK, told LSIPR that “use and distribution of counterfeit medicines is a serious problem which threatens public safety on a global scale”.

“We’re working with government officials, ministries of health, customs and regulatory bodies around the world to tackle the problem of counterfeit medicine, and through campaigns like this we are at the forefront of building public awareness, helping to protect people against the inherent dangers of taking counterfeit medicines,” Osborne said.

Pfizer said that it had detected counterfeit versions of 42 of its medicines in the supply chains of at least 62 countries, including the US, Canada, and the UK.

The UK Department of Health and Social Care has said that it has observed an increase in “the number of people using the web to self-diagnose and self-prescribe”.

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