To put this figure in context, in 2007 seizures of 1.6m morphine-based pills in Switzerland largely accounted for the nation being reported as the country of origin for 40 per cent of counterfeit drugs in the EU.
This shows that in two months the EU’s MEDI-FAKE action has surpassed the number of pills that were seized throughout 2007. MEDI-FAKE was a concerted effort by member states’ customs controls to stop counterfeit drugs entering the EU.
László Kovács, Commissioner for Taxation and Customs, said: "In a two month period, Customs seized more than 34m illegal pills, far exceeding expectations. This success shows the value of the new Community approach to risk management.
“It multiplies the effectiveness of customs controls, thereby better protecting citizens and legitimate business from new and increasing security and safety threats. Co-operation between customs and legitimate business proved vital."
The seizures included the capture of 2.2m counterfeit drugs at Brussels’, Belgium airport, which was the largest ever single haul in the EU. This consisted of 1.6m painkillers and 600,000 anti-malarials.
In addition to Belgium, France, the UK and Spain were all reported to have made sizable seizures of counterfeits.
Tip of the iceberg?
Although the number of pills seized is impressive it also serves to emphasise the number of counterfeits that were previously entering the EU.
The European Commission has said that effective elements of the campaign will be continued by member states “in the coming period”and that actions similar to MEDI-FAKE may be initiated in the future.
Having revealed the scale of the problem it is clear that member states must remain vigilant to ensure that MEDI-FAKE is not just a blip.