EU industry loses €16.5bn in sales to counterfeit drugs

By Ben Hargreaves contact

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/Andrey Bukreev)
(Image: Getty/Andrey Bukreev)

Related tags: EUIPO, European union

A report from the EUIPO demonstrated that a shift in the focus of counterfeited goods to include pharmaceutical products has caused significant loss of sales and employment.

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has released a report​ this month regarding 11 analysed sectors in the region, including the pharmaceutical industry.

The European Union (EU) organisation found that all analysed sectors lost sales as a result infringement of intellectual property rights (IPR), for a total impact of €92bn ($103bn) between 2012 and 2016.

The reported states that “because of the high value associated with IPR, infringement of those rights is a lucrative criminal activity, which generates significant costs to the rights owners and to the economy in general.”

Of the 11 sectors studied, which included ‘toys and games’, ‘handbags and luggage’, and ‘jewellery and watches’ – areas that would be considered traditional markets for counterfeit goods – the pharma industry suffered the second biggest total loss of sales, at €16.5bn. The only industry to be hit harder was the ‘clothing, footwear and accessories’ market, which lost sales of €45.9bn.

However, the pharma industry’s loss was also the second-lowest for total sales, amounting to 3.9%.

Employment has also been affected by a shift from production from legitimate intellectual property (IP) holders to infringing firms, the OECD noted in its own report​.

The pharma industry experienced the second-highest total employment loss, with an estimated 80,459 positions impacted.

Executive director of the EUIPO, Christian Archambeau, said: “Our research work shows how counterfeiting and piracy can put growth and jobs at risk.

“We carry out this analysis, and our wider body of research, to support policy makers in devising solutions to this problem, and to help make EU consumers aware of the economic consequences of counterfeiting and piracy at a wider level.”

The EUIPO report concluded that closer coordination is required among EU institutions and bodies involved in tackling IPR infringement. It also noted that its own support to European companies “must be reviewed and adapted to the complex and changing IPR infringement landscape.”

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