Image: National Cancer Institute (unsplash)
In 2022, a notable crackdown on pharmaceutical fraud, involving patients and organizations, was reported by BrandShield and the Pharmaceutical Security Institute. They shed light on the removal of numerous listings that featured an array of counterfeit drugs meant to treat ailments such as various cancers, HIV, and type 2 diabetes, among other conditions. This analysis and removal operation spanned the timeframe from January 2022 to January 2023.
Throughout this period, the operation led to the elimination of over 7,500 fraudulent pharmaceutical listings that were scattered across social media platforms, websites, and marketplaces. This represented hundreds of thousands of dollars in counterfeit pharmaceutical products.
An analysis of the yearlong disruption effort showed that Indonesia topped the list of countries with fraudulent listings, as more than 2,200 suspicious listings were erased from there. Further removals of marketplace listings were also carried out in India (539), China (190), the Philippines (118), Mexico (53), Malaysia (39), Venezuela (30), Thailand (20), the United States (16), and Vietnam (16).
In addition to marketplaces, social media platforms were identified as prime targets for pharmaceutical fraud. Over the course of the same 12-month period, more than 3,074 counterfeit listings were eliminated from these platforms. Although one social media site lagged behind with a takedown rate of only 55%, the overall takedown rate showed a significant improvement, rising by approximately 28% (from 63% to 81%).
The investigation further provided a detailed breakdown of the takedown rate per social media platform. The takedown rates for YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter were recorded as 95.8%, 92%, 86.7%, 67.3%, and 55% respectively.