Europe cracks down on fake drugs

THE European Parliament has approved a new directive to protect patients from dangerous counterfeit medicines, BBC News reports. 

The coalition of 27 European governments has approved the draft directive to combat the distribution of potentially dangerous fake medicines that either fail to work or contain harmful substances.

The directive calls for drug packaging to include two-dimensional barcodes able to be read by scanners. 

The new legislation is expected within two years and will also include new constraints on internet pharmacies where sales of counterfeit drugs are rife. 

Mail order pharmacies will be considered legitimate only if they are connected to a legally registered pharmacy, and may dispense prescription medicines only if the  original prescription has been obtained in advance.

Around 1% of all medicines sold to the public in Europe through legitimate channels have been reported to be fake.