Airport customs in Zurich, Switzerland announced Friday that they intercepted more than a million counterfeit drugs labelled as Pfizer’s Xanax.
The drugs were in transit between China and Egypt, according to Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products, known as Swissmedic. The regulators said the four crates of drugs weighed more than 400 kilograms.
Upon later analysis of the drugs, Swissmedic determined that they contained no active ingredient. According to experts, the drugs would not have been recognizable as counterfeits by sight.
Swissmedic said it immediately informed international authorities, including Egyptian and Chinese health authorities. The regulators also initiated administrative proceedings and ordered the destruction of the drugs.
Euro, US Counterfeit Efforts
The announcement comes as earlier last week, 70 participants from 32 countries met in Strasbourg at the Council of Europe to discuss key topics and future collaboration in the legal and public health fields to draft a Medicrime Convention to root out counterfeits.
The Convention is the first and the only currently available legal instrument that can be used by the international community to fight this phenomenon worldwide. It seeks to introduce penal sanctions not only for intentional acts such as "supplying or offering to supply counterfeit medical products" but also for other crimes such as selling unauthorized products and which is claimed to be effective against a disease.
The US Congress, similarly, is still ironing out the details of a bill that would further secure the nation’s drug supply chain through the electronic tracking of drugs.
The private sector is also looking at ways to ensure treatments are authentic. TruTag is developing edible silica microtags to help pharma companies track their supplies, while a portable device from Thermo Scientific may also help.