Counterfeit drugs are being labeled as one of the most dangerous terrorists by Wiltshire C.N. Johnson, the Registrar of the Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone. He said that counterfeit drugs are responsible for many deaths of people in the society. According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), up to 30% of medications on the market in developing countries such as Africa are counterfeit. Counterfeit medicines are deliberately and fraudulently mislabeled with respect to identity and/or sources. They are typically designed to fool buyers by using misleading packaging and mimicking the shape, color, size and imprints of genuine drugs. Counterfeit medicines pose a significant public health risk. They can lead to treatment failure, organ dysfunction and damage, worsening chronic disease condition and can cause early death. The intake of fake drugs has an adverse effect on the immune system as well. This affects the recovery of a patient from the disease process. Johnson told journalists at a symposium held at the conference room of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists in Freetown that drugs counterfeiting was not a new phenomenon, noting that "it is a murder perpetuated by faceless money makers."
Globally, there is ample evidence of the presence of organized criminal networks in counterfeit pharmaceutical trafficking. Johnson claimed that drugs counterfeiting was a corporate global network and that people sell them because they want to make money. "The fight against drugs counterfeiting should not be left in the hands of the pharmacy board alone but needs the cooperation of everyone," he noted.
In 2010, the illegal market in counterfeit medicines alone is expected to raise approximately US$75 billion in revenues for smugglers. This represents an increase of 92% compared to 2005. In some African and Asian countries reports are that up to 90% of medicines are counterfeit. The loss of life resulting directly and indirectly from the proliferation of counterfeit pharmaceuticals has already taken on huge proportions. The time to intervene is now. Every day counts in this battle against these killers.