Increased trafficking in falsified medical products due to COVID-19, says UNODC research

COVID-19 – Falsified Medicines

Increased trafficking in falsified medical products due to COVID-19, says UNODC research
Vienna (Austria), 8 July – The sudden increase in demand for medical products to address the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an expansion in the trafficking of substandard and falsified products, according to research published today by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The virus has further highlighted the shortcomings in regulatory and legal frameworks aimed at preventing the manufacture and trafficking of such products, the “COVID-19-related Trafficking of Medical Products as a Threat to Public Health” research brief points out.

“Health and lives are at risk with criminals exploiting the COVID-19 crisis to cash in on public anxiety and increased demand for PPE and medications,” said UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly.

“Transnational organized crime groups take advantage of gaps in national regulation and oversight to peddle substandard and falsified medical products. We need to help countries increase cooperation to close gaps, build law enforcement and criminal justice capacity, and drive public awareness to keep people safe.”

Organized criminal groups have exploited uncertainties surrounding the virus by filling the gap in the demand for medical products that are in short supply with sub-standard and falsified products. The falsification of medical products bears significant risks for public health as products may not properly treat the disease and may facilitate the development of drug resistance.

Criminal groups have also quickly adjusted to the opportunities arising from the COVID-19 pandemic to exploit the vulnerabilities and gaps in the health and criminal justice systems. Evidence shows that illicit events, such as fraud, scams and seizures, involving the manufacture and trafficking of substandard and falsified medical products, have followed the spread of the virus…