For those that have not heard the news, there was a recent incident in the Henan province (central China) concerning USD 30 million worth of counterfeit pharmaceutical products. 65 million bottles have been confiscated and 114 people arrested as a result of a four-month long investigation and drug bust. The investigation, sparked from an incident in April in which a woman at a drug store used fake medicines to replace genuine ones, included searches of 117 counterfeit drug production and sales sites.
Large-scale victories for the anti-counterfeiting world are especially gratifying (although this is not to undermine smaller-scale victories!), even for those not directly involved. It proves that countries like China, notorious for aptly-named knockoffs (see Top 10 Chinese Knockoffs), are especially vigilant and proactive in fighting counterfeits - both in the physical world and the online world.
For counterfeiters, the internet is a vast 'land of opportunity' to profit from consumers drawn to the privacy and convenience of online retail. Unfortunately, it means that one should never trust the origin of their products unless it has been verified by accredited sources. But, using only trusted vendors may prove difficult due to the popularity of e-commerce, where one can sell or buy from anyone.
Online commerce sites can be quite complicated: Chinese web giant Taobao.com (think of it as China's version of Ebay) has over 800 million products listed at any point, and such a densely-trafficked site is extremely difficult to monitor. Products such as breast milk, diet pills (containing tapeworm eggs), and fertility drugs have made it to that e-market - and those are not even the products people should worry about.
Despite the flood of sub-quality and counterfeit goods on the online market, online retailers and e-commerce companies strive to eliminate items and ban users who violate their rules. Taobao.com strongly opposes the selling and purchasing of counterfeit and/or unregulated/substandard items, and works to maintain their standards via a task force dedicated to seeking out these products on the website and acting appropriately to rid of it.
The moral of this story: Despite efforts to eradicate the presence of counterfeit and substandard goods, one must always be wary of their surroundings online and in the physical world. And when you can, don't just trust it - verify it.