Any innovative breakthrough follows a plague of imitators, thieves, and fraudsters. This is a sad reality to which the medical industry is not immune. An already incredibly complex global public health situation gains a new, terrifying dimension because of the risks of the bogus vaccine business.
Infringement of intellectual property (IP) and counterfeiting have long been significant issues for people working in the pharmaceutical business and public health officials globally. The proliferation of fraudulent COVID vaccines puts many lives at risk. We enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic amid the expansion of the Omicron variation, the most recent significant strain and the most contagious to date. Healthcare providers, medication producers, and IP specialists should all be well aware of this harm to the public’s health before recommending vaccination or booster shots to anyone.
The proliferation of bogus vaccinations
When Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, and other pharmaceutical companies were accessible in early 2021. And the trade in fake COVID vaccinations did not strictly come as a surprise. Since ancient times, there have been counterfeit medications and therapies. Naturally, we distinguish between quackery and purposefully false presentations of effective medicines on the one hand.
Such as unscientific therapeutics, superstitious remedies, and other nostra. For instance, the outdated technique of drilling a hole in the skull to treat migraines was frequently carried out in good faith and with the genuine, if the incorrect, assumption that it had therapeutic benefits.
We might go to the widespread distortion of cinchona bark in the 17th century after bringing it to light to treat malaria as a historical example of knowing fraud. But even this case is far older than the first natural vaccination, which Edward Jenner created in 1796 to treat smallpox. Crisis presents an opportunity for evil, and the continuing pandemic is a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions. Nevertheless, just because unethical medical behavior has existed for as long as medicine itself does not justify ignoring it.
Although there are marketplaces for fake vaccines and medications worldwide, they are most common in developing countries. About 10% of the medicines and other medical items, including vaccinations that are in use in low- and middle-income countries, are either fake or of poor quality, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO has subsequently educated 550 regulators to spot and report these fakes, although the organization only started monitoring the prevalence and distribution of tainted and subpar vaccinations in 2013. Using this information, national and international law enforcement organizations can target criminals. And enable healthcare institutions to guarantee the delivery of potent medications.
The first WHO alert concerning a fake COVID-19 immunization was made on March 26, 2021, after Mexican authorities discovered that a suspect medicine mistakenly branded as a Pfizer vaccine was fake. Mexico is a nation that has long suffered from the illegal pharmaceutical trade. There is now a large black market for counterfeit COVID drugs. It is not, however, the sole casualty.
The fake coronavirus vaccination market has expanded globally since early 2021:
- Following dismantling a smuggling network at the beginning of last year, China made finding imitations of its Sinopharm vaccine a top priority.
- Interpol thwarted an effort to counterfeit vaccines in ten southern African nations, including Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.
- Poland, Iran, Uganda, India, and Myanmar have all reported finding fake vaccines in their respective countries.
- For setting up phony COVID-19 immunization appointments, a nurse in Ancona, Italy, was detained on January 12, 2022.
- Corrupt medical professionals have been open in Israel and the US for selling refilled vials of genuine vaccines to con artists.
However, these are just a few notable incidents the authorities have learned about. It is logical to expect that fake pharmaceuticals exist anywhere with straightforward cures and, tragically, genuine requirements. Public health and law enforcement officials are concerned about this issue and the distribution of phony vaccine cards, a practice that attracts those who have not had vaccinations and want to enter restaurants and other public areas where they are required to be manifest. For instance, the majority of counterfeit COVID immunization cards come from France.
Taking action to stop fakes
False COVID vaccine shots are illegal. And anyone caught selling or giving them could face legal sanctions.
Instead of being accused of selling fake vaccinations in the Italian case, cited the nurse and four alleged collaborators’ embezzlement, corruption, and information falsification. A person who manufactures or sells illicit items may be held accountable by anti-counterfeiting legislation, such as the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act in the United States or the Public Health, Customs, Intellectual Property, and Consumers Codes in France. These laws specifically address falsified pharmaceuticals and vaccines.
These anti-counterfeiting rules carry a variety of penalties for violations. For instance, the United States drug counterfeiting statute imposes a maximum sentence of ten years in prison, a hefty fine, or both. The full term and OK may be higher. And the reason is that additional offenses like racketeering or mail fraud may also be present in such situations. It is possible to receive a sentence of three to five years in prison for violating intellectual property. And a fine of up to €500,000 for that violation. Even harsher fines might be applied if added additional penalties from the Public Health Code, IP Code, and Criminal Code. Not to mention, civil lawsuits for patent or trademark infringement are very particular.
Public Health and IP are at risk.
The voluntary release of COVID-19 vaccine patents has been the subject of a heated discussion for the past two years. The United States, Russia, and China are among the countries which support it. It is because they think it might drastically lower the death rate in the world’s poorest countries, where the availability of vaccines lags considerably behind that of wealthier nations. Those opposed contend that temporarily relinquishing IP rights might stifle innovation.
Of course, there is no such case against making counterfeiting a crime. Fake vaccines make it harder for pharmaceutical companies to monetize their intellectual property and recover their R&D expenses. In the long run, maintaining a reasonable rate of innovation is hampered by this revenue loss. What’s most upsetting is that these phony cures endanger lives. Even though fake vaccines get ready for harmless chemicals, they may be manufactured using unregulated, potentially harmful substances and do not protect against COVID-19. They may even encourage the spread of the infection by inspiring a false sense of security.
It would be irresponsible to overlook the risk pharmaceutical counterfeits pose to your brand and, more importantly, your customers. With the aid of IP Docketer’s French desk, prevent IP infringement in France. Our Paris office can develop customized IP management. And a protection strategy in collaboration with our extensive network of partners to meet your specific requirements. And advance the health and profitability of your business.