Fake pharmaceutics and batteries targeted in huge raids

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Massive seizures of counterfeit pharmaceuticals and fake Covid-19 vaccines are reported by authorities in Europe and China. Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson settles with a suspected counterfeiter, and Spanish officials seize hundreds of thousands of counterfeit batteries.

Network for fake pharmaceuticals dismantled in Poland
Hundreds of thousands of counterfeit medicines, medical devices, and ingredients for producing medicines, worth about 25 million złoty (ca. 5.6 million euros), were seized by Poland’s Centralne Biuro Śledcze Policji (CBŚP) police unit in February in the western Polish city of Poznań. The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) coordinated the joint operation of Polish, French, and Italian authorities. As part of an international criminal organization, the counterfeiters have presumably been importing active pharmaceutical ingredients from Asia to Poland for around three years; these were then redistributed to other countries to produce counterfeit cancer drugs and psychotropic drugs, for example. Tens of millions of fake pharmaceuticals were then apparently either placed on the Polish market or sold via the Internet to customers in Europe and the United States. Investigations also indicated that the network had stolen large quantities of genuine medicines from production facilities and sold them illegally. Now, 13 suspects with Polish and French citizenship have been arrested and real estate assets, forged documents, weapons, drugs, and cash have been seized. Investigations continue in the case, which illustrates links of counterfeiting and other serious crimes.

Thousands of counterfeit Corona vaccines seized in China
Chinese law enforcement authorities have busted a criminal counterfeiting ring for fake Covid-19 vaccines and seized more than 3,000 fake vaccine doses, state media in China reports. The criminal organization allegedly operated since September 2020 and produced thousands of counterfeit vaccines against the coronavirus. They reportedly filled ineffective saline solution into vaccine vials, which they sold at high prices. Police in the Eastern Chinese regions of Jiangsu, Beijing, and Shandong have arrested more than 80 people, according to the state news agency Xinhua. The counterfeiters presumably also planned to distribute fake vaccines outside of China.

Johnson & Johnson settles in counterfeiting lawsuit
U.S. pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has been granted at least 6 million US dollars (approximately 4.9 million euros) by settling a lawsuit in the United States. In a lawsuit filed in June 2020, J&J and their subsidiary Ethicon accused the defendant company, which operates as eSutures.com, of importing and selling counterfeit Ethicon medical devices. These allegedly included medical clamps as well as further surgical supplies that remain in the patient’s body after surgery. The settlement now reached also requires eSutures to refrain from buying, distributing, or trading in products manufactured or marketed by J&J. eSutures emphasizes that the products are not counterfeit but alternative products.

Hundreds of thousands of counterfeit batteries seized in Spain
Officials from Spain’s Policía Nacional have seized some 720,000 counterfeit batteries and materials, worth more than 100,000 euros, in the Madrid area. The officials raided an illegal production facility for counterfeit batteries and arrested four people suspected of infringing the trademark rights of a well-known battery manufacturer. The officers discovered clandestine production facilities in the basement of a printing workshop; in addition to hundreds of thousands of counterfeits, they confiscated packaging materials bearing the logo of a well-known manufacturer and two machines for sealing batteries. According to reports, the counterfeiters placed the trademark of a well-known brand on the fakes on the site and also packaged, stored, and distributed them from there. The counterfeits were produced without any quality control, so they could damage or even destroy electronic devices. Police began their investigation in December 2020, when authorities were alerted to potentially illegal activity in an industrial area in western Madrid.


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Sources: OLAF, CBŚP; CNN, Global Times; Law360; Actualidad 21, Fuenlabrada Noticias

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