Criminals are cashing in on the swine flu pandemic by selling fake anti-viral drugs online, an EU group warned this week. The European Medicines Agency (EMEA) is reporting an increase in the number of bogus or low-quality H1N1 vaccines being sold over the Internet.
The group says some of the fake drugs are mixed with sugar, rat poison and other medicines and could pose serious health risks to Irish citizens.
It comes as the European Parliament prepares to give its verdict on new laws governing counterfeit medicine. Over the coming weeks, MEPs will debate proposals for a major overhaul of regulations on the pharmaceutical sector, including a plan to crackdown on fake drugs.
However some MEPs have raised concerns that the draft legislation does not include measures to tackle the online sale of bogus drugs.
Meanwhile, the EU Health Commissioner has warned that any Irish schools with confirmed swine flu cases must be immediately shut down. Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou said the temporary cancellation of classes and sporting events must be ‘compulsory’ to prevent further illnesses. She also cautioned that up to one in three people across the EU could catch the swine flu virus by Christmas.
‘We must unfortunately expect a significant number of deaths,’ she added.