Fake news is one thing to be mindful of, but perhaps another issue for people to be equally concerned of is fake medicines.

HANOI: Fake news is one thing to be mindful of, but perhaps another issue for people to be equally concerned of is fake medicines.

A recent report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) warned that increasing amounts of falsified medicines are being produced in Southeast Asia, said the Asean Post.

“With nearly half of the anti-malarial medicines tested in Southeast Asia found to be fraudulent, the problem is gaining more attention both regionally and nationally,” said the agency.

It is in part a result of legitimate and illegitimate products by pharmaceutical producers based in India and China having transferred or outsourced some manufacturing processes to Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Cambodia.

It was done to avoid tougher regulations and enforcement and to benefit from lower production costs, according to UNODC.

Alarmingly, people within the drugs industry were also found to be involved, which has brought a bigger headache for the authorities.

For example, in a case that shocked Vietnam, six former executives of a private pharmaceutical company here were found guilty of forging paperwork to distribute fake cancer drugs in 2017.

They claimed the medicines were manufactured by a Canadian company, which investigators found to be non-existent, and received prison sentences ranging from two to 12 years.

The portal cited a report by a Malaysian pharmacist and blogger about how to spot counterfeit Panadol, a medication that contains paracetamol and is used to treat pain and fever, after accidentally buying some. He stated that fake Panadol is not obvious to the untrained eye.

In response, the drug’s manufacturers GlaxoSmithKline issued a statement that said that the “issue of counterfeit Panadol currently seems to be limited to Malaysia”.