Expired medicinal drugs from developed countries are being smuggled into Colombia through Venezuela and Ecuador, before being repackaged and sold, El Tiempo reported Thursday.
The Colombian Association of Retail Druggists (Asocoldro) has said that the main medicines being smuggled are ibuprofen, aspirin, contraceptive pills, multivitamins and high-cost drugs.
The director of Asocoldro, Maximio Visbal, explained that, “In the European market, international networks have been found that acquire the already expired product, [then] enter it clandestinely into Colombia and change the packaging.”
“We have found that many products which must be sold only under medical prescription are available at exaggeratedly low prices in the market, and that is because they are false or do not meet the minimum quality requirements,” he continued, adding, “That has serious serious consequences for the health of a person.”
Visbal estimated that when the drugs re-enter the market after repackaging, they have often lost up to 99% of their utility to the patient.
Colonel Eduardo Dueñas, head of the Criminal Investigation branch of the Bogota Metropolitan Police, said that medicinal drugs are one of the 10 most common types of smuggling in the city, citing as example a seizure of 35,000 expired doses at the end of 2010.
Authorities and union members agree that medicinal drug smuggling presents one of the most serious problems in the fight against the black market, despite the fact that the country does not have consolidated figures regarding the issue.