Year-on-year increases in seizures of medicines suspected of infringing intellectual property (IP) have led to the European Union (EU) paying more attention to the problem. Medicines now total 10 per cent of all articles seized, up from 2.1 per cent in 2006.
This growth has seen the number of medicine articles seized by EU customs officials increase from 2.7m in 2006 to 11.5m in 2009. The number of cases registered 2009 rose slightly year-on-year, up from 3,207 to 3,368.
In its latest report the EU included, for the first time, figures on the number of cases that were found to be non-infringing of the IP or where the brand holder failed to pursue the case. Discounting these instances, there were 7.4m articles seized and 3,242 cases.
Also, the latest report also contains information on suspect medical ingredients. Customs officials seized 1.8kg of these materials in six separate cases. However, four of these cases were dropped, for non-infringement or by the brand holder, leaving 0.6kg of suspect ingredients.
Countries of provenance
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) was where the majority, 74 per cent, of seized medicines were shipped from. In each of the past four years the UAE has been in the top three countries of shipping for seized medical products.
India, with 23 per cent, and China, with one per cent, were the second and third most common countries of provenance. For other products, such as CDs, China is often the most common source but in the past three years relatively few seized medicines have shipped from the country.