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France seizes record haul of fake Chinese pills

Ben McPartland · 10 Apr 2014, 11:59

Published: 10 Apr 2014 11:59 GMT+02:00

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The 13-tonnes seizure has been described as the most significant ever made in France and the European Union and was made at the northern port of Le Havre back in February.

The fake pills, packaged ed in boxes that looked like the real ones, were discovered when customs officers searched two containers on tow different ships from Shanghai. They were being transported in boxes labelled "Chinese Tea".

But instead of tea they found 601 boxes containing millions of pills for various ailments, including some erectile-dysfunction, some of which were found to contain no active chemical ingredient and others were found to contain doses which do not match the packet.

Customs officials stressed the counterfeit drugs could have caused health complications if they had ended up in the hands of members of the public.

The haul broke the previous record seizure, which was also made in the port of Le Havre, in May 2013 when more than 1.2 million sachets of counterfeit aspirin were confiscated.

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Counterfeit drugs accounted for 18 percent of all the seizures made by French customs officials last year, representing 7.6 million items. 

The problem of counterfeit drug production in China was highlighted last year when the country's authorities launched a crackdown which led to 1,300 arrests in December and the closure of dozens of unauthorised online pharmacies.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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