Lilit Hakobyan bought Gentamicin for her ill daughter
from an unnamed and small pharmacy, she couldn't
even imagine that the vials would cause a problem.
Those effective antibiotics meant for administering
via injections and intended for recovery in short
terms turned out to be completely ineffective.
The medicine was counterfeit and the vials contained
some unknown mixture or water.
"Before that incident, I couldn't even think
that something like that could have happened but
now I'm suspicious of everything," says Hakobyan,
"I have no idea how I can protect myself
from all of that and not to buy fake medicines.
It's a real mess."
According to the appraisals of International
Healthcare Organization, there is a probability
that up to 60 per cent of medicines that are sold
in markets of developing countries can be counterfeit.
"These days, when talks everyday are about
bioterrorism, the branch of bioterrorism exists
under the name of pharmacoterrorism i.e. terrorism
by means of medicines," says Samvel Azatyan,
candidate of medical sciences, deputy head of
Armenian Drug and Medical Technologies Agency.
"It is a serious problem for the entire world
and all the more for the developing countries
and, of course, for Armenia."
As specialists assure, the medicines, which are
legally delivered to Armenia are completely legitimate
and are checked on different levels. But the same
cannot be told about medicines which are delivered
to Armenia through smuggling. Those medicines
are mainly brought from CIS countries in bags
or cases and for the most part are faked and consequently
very cheap. As delivery of such medicines is illegal
the quality is impossible to control.
"First of all medicines are very profitable
and, of course, there is a great temptation to
fake them for making profit off it," Azatyan
says. "Sure, in most cases the medicines
in great demand are faked. They are antibiotics,
analgesics, anti-inflammatory medicines, substances
for intravenous usage and others."
"It often happens that we are offered medicines
for very cheap prices, however, we are working
with companies and aren't attracted by offers
like that," says Silva, co-director of one
of the biggest pharmacies of Andranik district.
"Many people are attracted by cheap prices
and take those medicines but later they get into
Azatyan says that medicines can be faked in different
ways. For instance, there are cases when medicines
don't contain correct active agents, which they
should have contained and such medicines are of
low effectiveness. Sometimes it happens when faked
medicines contain no active agents at all, instead
they contain neutral substances. The shape and
design of the legitimate medication is copied
making it impossible to detect a fake without
can happen when a medicine contains dangerous
and poisonous substances. Of course, it's the
most dangerous type of fake production and over
the past years it has been seen more often here,"
says Azatyan. "Some cases were detected in
our market, when, for instance, instead of antibiotics,
medicines contained agents infected with microbes
or under the name of substances for intravenous
usage some substances, which contained water or
some fouled mixtures with adequate color attached
to them were on sale. Nobody can guarantee that
these days some faked medicines won't be used
for inflicting great injury to people at large.
I mean this problem grew from medical into the
problem of national security in a sense."
In Armenia faked medicines were detected mainly
as a result of alarm calls and only in a few cases
as a result of inspections. Either ordinary citizens
complain or mainly doctors, who have been using
medicines for many years and one day find out
that those medicines look strange or they are
not effective at all.
The Agency on Medicines and Medical Technologies,
which since its founding in 1992 has been examining
this problem and conducting laboratory researches
in this field, makes statements after each incident
in its periodical about faked medicines and how
to avoid them. However those methods are not available
to the public at large.
"A great amount of faked medicines have
been detected on the Armenian market. We can be
sure that the number of faked medicines in the
market is incomparably bigger than the number
of detected ones. As for the present moment there
is a problem of detecting and the population must
be more careful and make right choices,"
Specialists advise consumers to buy medicines
only in approved pharmacies and not from unknown
markets. And in case there are some doubts while
purchasing medicines one must insist on necessary
documentation proving the validity of the medicine.
Head of Press Department of the Ministry of Healthcare
Ruslana Gevorgyan says that the Ministry is organizing
an inspections commission to exercise more control
over the import of medicines and tests to determine
"For the stronger fight it's necessary to
carry out serious works and closely cooperate
with law enforcement, tax and many other bodies
and links," says Samvel Azatyan. "First
of all the borders must be controlled very seriously
as one bag delivered to the country through smuggling
can deluge the whole republic."