17:12 06.03.2024

Doctors, pharmacists demand intensification of fight against illegitimate advertising of fake medicines using leading medical brands

4 min read

KYIV. March 6 (Interfax-Ukraine) – Doctors and pharmaceutical manufacturers demand to strengthen the fight against illegitimate advertising of fake medicines on the Internet using well-known brands and faces of leading experts in the medical industry.

As Doctor of Medical Sciences, Director of the Heart Institute of the Ministry of Health Borys Todurov emphasized at a press conference at Interfax-Ukraine on Tuesday, fraudulent advertising on the Ukrainian pharmaceutical market can claim hundreds and thousands of lives. As an example of this, he cited the fact that, in particular, fake drugs are often advertised on the Internet in his name.

"On the Internet, on Facebook, drugs are offered in my name that we allegedly develop. Don't believe that this is so - we do not take part in the development of new drugs. We perform operations, we only engage in surgery," he said.

Todurov noted that every day he responds to many messages regarding fake drugs that he is allegedly developing, and there are "dozens" of such drugs. One of the latest such fake drugs that is sold online in his name is Normocardis.

Todurov noted that he had already contacted law enforcement agencies with statements about precedents, and that the cyber police had already opened a criminal case into the use of his name and the names of his colleagues.

"It is very difficult to track such scammers, they are often located abroad. But I think that it is possible to find and catch at least those people who distribute fake drugs in Ukraine - they have telephone numbers, a specific address, they can be tracked," the director of the Heart Institute said.

Todurov noted that advertisements for fake drugs are often created using artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, which make it possible to create believable videos using the images and voices of specific famous doctors.

In turn, Honored Doctor of Ukraine, director and founder of the medical center Clinic of Dr. Valikhnovsky Rostyslav Valikhnovsky said that on his behalf there were recorded cases of distribution of at least eight drugs and dietary supplements that supposedly treat joints, varicose veins, heart, and rheumatic diseases.

"This has absolutely nothing to do with reality. I want to put it on record that this is not true and our brand has nothing to do with these drugs," he said.

Valikhnovsky noted that the clinic also contacted the cyber police in Kyiv, and law enforcement agencies managed to block sites that posted such information in one day. However, he noted that it was not possible to solve this problem with Facebook.

"With Facebook it is very difficult to solve this problem during the war, so with this press conference I would like to appeal to the Minister of the Interior, the Prosecutor General, so that they take this problem under personal control," he said.

Valikhnovsky noted that "if nothing is done now at the beginning of the development of AI, then later we will not be able to correct anything."

At the same time, he emphasized that clinics and doctors without law enforcement agencies cannot independently identify fraudsters and fight them.

For his part, head of the Association of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers of Ukraine Petro Bahriy clarified that in war conditions it is quite difficult to estimate the volume of the market for such fake drugs, including due to the ban on inspections.

"We cannot accurately estimate the volume of such a market, especially during the war. But we are interested in the Ukrainian pharmaceutical market being transparent, so that the promotion of medicines is legal, because we know about the responsibility for people's health," he said.

Bahriy noted that the Association was one of the initiators of introducing criminal liability for false advertising and the production and distribution of fake drugs.

"I support my colleagues and appeal to law enforcement agencies and everyone who can help overcome this shameful phenomenon and stop these scammers who today, using well-known brands of doctors, promote in their name fake drugs that harm health and even kill," he said.

Bahriy also emphasized that leading domestic pharmaceutical companies are constantly developing R&D, developing new drugs according to international standards of evidence-based effectiveness, safety and quality, investing significant funds in this area.

"Fake drugs sold online in this way harm people's health, but also harm the economy, because fraudsters, unlike pharmaceutical manufacturers, do not pay taxes, do not create jobs, and do not invest in the development of their brand and the country's economy. The business of these scammers harms everyone, and law enforcement officials must solve this problem," he concluded.

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