A survey sponsored by Pfizer stated that western Europeans spend an estimated 10.5 billion euros ($14.3 billion) every year on buying medicines illicitly and several of these medicines were fake.
Germans and Italians top the list in buying drugs without a prescription. This is done either over the Internet or on overseas trips. Nightclubs, shops and friends were other sources.
Reports state that fake medicines should be avoided as they have ingredients that are toxic. World Health Organization states that this is a growing world health hazard.
Companies like Pfizer, the world's biggest drugmaker, are affected by this practice. And critics say that this issue is being highlighted to implement tighter controls so that companies that manufacture drugs can save their brands.
But the problem is being taken seriously by European officials. Outgoing European Union industry commissioner Guenter Verheugen had said that this issue is worrying him as 34 million fake tablets were seized in two months.
Jim Thomson, chairman of the European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines, said, "Tests by his group had shown that 62 percent of medicines purchased online were fake or substandard."
About 14000 people who were questioned regarding this issue accepted that they had bought medicines illicitly.
by Amit Pathania