An EU customs report on counterfeiting and piracy has said that there has been a definite increase in the number of fake health care goods being sold on the EU market.
The report found that seizures of counterfeit cosmetics and personal care products like razor blades and moisturising creams increased by 264 percent in 2007 over a year to total more than six million items.
AdvertisementMeanwhile in Geneva, the US proposed to the World Health Organisation (WHO) the creation of an international system of certification to protect consumers from couterfeit products.
Health Secretary Michael Leavitt suggested a collaborative system of international standards and local controls.
The Brussels report said the number of fake toys picked up grew 98 percent, and medicines by 51 percent. Dodgy computer equipment finds rose 62 percent.
"Counterfeiting continues to pose a dangerous threat to our health, safety and our economy," EU Taxation and Customs Commissioner Laszlo Kovacs warned.
Surprisingly, given this substantial rise, the total number of such goods seized in the 27 nation European Union actually went down owing to a drop in the number of counterfeit CDs, DVDs and cigarettes intercepted.
However the European Commission report noted: "Although the overall amount of articles seized by customs has decreased compared to last year, there has been an increase in sectors that are potentially dangerous to consumers."
It listed Georgia, followed by Turkey and then China -- which is responsible for almost 60 percent of all counterfeit goods seized in the EU -- as being the main sources of fake personal care products.
Switzerland, India and the United Arab Emirates were top for medicines, with viagra-like drugs for erectile problems continuing to be the most popular.
The number of counterfeit goods in traditional sectors -- like jewellery and clothing -- also rose significantly.
Seizures of jewellery and watches last year close to doubled with a rise of 89 percent, while almost 30 percent more clothing accessories and shoes were picked up, the commission's Taxation and Customs Union department report said.
The biggest sectors for counterfeiters remained cigarettes.
Upward of 27 million fake cigarettes were intercepted in 2007 -- more than half of them from China -- but the figure was down 63 percent over the previous year.
Almost 3.3 million counterfeit CDs, DVDs and cassettes were detected -- three in four produced in China -- but this too was a significant drop, 78 percent lower, than in 2006.
"All product sectors are subject to substantial counterfeiting and piracy," the report said.
In Geneva, US Health Secretary Michael Leavitt told the WHO his country, importing two trillion dollars of goods every year, could not inspect every container entering port.
"Trying to inspect everything would bring global commerce to a standstill," he said.
He suggested instead rolling back borders, setting up "a collaborative system of international standards and local controls that build safety into products right from the beginning."
He cited the example of India where 100 pharmaceutical laboratories were exporting products to the US.
"We need to inspect these facilities on a regular basis," he said, noting that an international system would mean various importing countries would not have to go and inspect the same production facilities.
Duly certified importers could send their goods quickly to the US while others would have to face extensive frontier inspections, said Leavitt.
Recent scandals about the quality of products were "early warning signs of a global system that is inadequate to ensure safety," he said.
"We don't have the protection we need for the future."
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