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Pharma Scams Go Global, Reports Find
What's behind that burst of pharmaceutical spam hitting consumers' inboxes?
The thousands of gray-market and black-market sellers of knock-off and fake pharmaceuticals and a glut of industrial chemicals in China, according to two reports released last week. While the U.S. accounted for nearly half of all pharmacy spam in 2008, China has now overcome that nation, accounting for nearly a third of all spam today, compared with 22 percent for the U.S.
In addition, while nearly half of all pharmacies were hosted in the United States in 2008, a little more than a third are hosted in the U.S. today, the report found. When researchers at MarkMonitor attempted to buy a drug from one of the sites, they were surprised at how far across the globe the operation extended, said Frederick Felman, chief marketing officer for the company.
"The phone number for the seller was in Texas, the site was Canadian, the people spoke in Russian, the drugs came from India, and the credit card processing was in Israel," Felman said.
A report from security firm McAfee supports MarkMonitor's findings. Online fraudsters marketing generic and fake drugs accounted for about two-thirds of global spam in the past three months, according to McAfee's report (pdf). While the Web sites selling the drugs appear to be hosted in Canada, much of the spam comes from China, the McAfee report found.
The trend appears to be the result of Chinese manufacturers' need to dump excess materials used in making pharmaceuticals, McAfee concludes in its report.
"Based on these observations of pharmacy spam, the end is not end in sight," the report stated. "If excess industrial chemical production in China cannot be dumped on the legal market, then it will continue to find a black market."
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Posted by: Robert Lemos