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Our Responsibility

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Counterfeit Medicines

February 11, 2015

What is counterfeit medicine?

A medicinal product is considered to be counterfeit when it is deliberately mislabelled with respect to its identity (packaging, labelling information, name and composition) and/or its source (manufacture, country of production, country of origin, marketing authorisation holder) and/or its background (dossiers and documentation relating to its distribution network).


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The figures most commonly cited by international organisations indicate that counterfeiting concerns, on average, 10% of the global pharmaceutical market, although the figure may reach up to 70% in certain African or Eastern European countries.  The WHO estimates that 50% of illegal medicinal product sales over the internet are counterfeit.

According to the WHO, counterfeit medicines may be responsible for a large number of deaths worldwide.

The fight against counterfeit drugs

As an active participant in efforts to combat counterfeit drugs, Sanofi advocates implementing Datamatrix technology.  As of 1st January 2011 this system is mandatory for all prescription medicines in France and some other European countries and the objective is for all European countries to adopt this system, which is recommended by European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).

Datamatrix technology makes it possible to use 2D bar codes to record new data (batch number and expiration date), ensuring the traceability of each box of medicines right up to when the pharmacist delivers the patient's prescription.

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