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Ukraine votes to criminalise drug counterfeiting

By Alexandira Pesic , 26-Sep-2011
Last updated the 26-Sep-2011 at 12:23 GMT

Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has voted unanimously in favour of new legislation which will criminalise the production and trafficking of counterfeit drugs.

Of three hundred and fifty six MPs, two hundred and fifty seven voted in favour of the proposed change to the country's criminal code, which will see the addition of an article entitled 'Medicine Counterfeiting, or the Trafficking of Counterfeit Medicine.

In a statement released soon after the vote, Ukrainian MP and member of the centrist Party of Regions, Volodymyr Oliynyk, said the new legislation would help preserve the nation's health.

"It is no secret that today in Ukraine there is a widespread phenomenon of counterfeit drugs," he said.

"And unfortunately many of our citizens have realised that sometimes by treatment of some diseases [using counterfeit drugs] there are complications, or even other diseases. Therefore the quality of medicines requires tight control of the supervisory organisations.

"Now the law provides for the falsification of medicines not only administrative mechanisms of prosecution, but criminal liability," he added.

Prison sentences

The article states that the production, sale, purchase, transportation or storage of counterfeit pharmaceutical goods with the intent to sell will be punishable through hefty fines, confiscation of equipment and raw materials and in some cases imprisonment for up to three years.

Repeat offenders and those engaged in large-scale trafficking may see their sentences rise to five years, but for those whose actions have resulted in the death of a patient - either through the production or sale of counterfeit drugs - prison sentences may be as severe as ten years.

Many working within the country's pharmaceutical sector will see the introduction of such legislation as long overdue, with Ukraine widely regarded as being among the world's worst culprits for the sale and manufacture of counterfeit medicines.

The last two years have seen the problem exacerbated by the country's improving economic situation - the result of strong trade relations with Russia - which has allowed counterfeiters to maintain profits during a time when many of Ukraine's eurozone neighbours teeter on the brink of a return to recession.

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