Malaysia is so far the only country where fake Panadol has been reported, consumer healthcare giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) told Business Insider on Wednesday (August 28).
Earlier this week, pharmacist and blogger Zeff Tan shone the spotlight on counterfeit Panadol after he managed to obtain some from a local seller. In a Facebook post, the blogger warned that the subtle differences between the fake product and the real Panadol were not obvious to the untrained eye.
In response to queries, a spokesman from GSK told Business Insider that while the “issue of counterfeit Panadol currently seems to be limited to Malaysia”, its global teams have been alerted to look out for similar cases in other parts of the world.
Noting that counterfeit products have become more prevalent across the pharmaceutical industry in recent years, Dr Colin G. D’Silva, head of communications and government affairs for GSK in Asia-Pacific, said that GSK was not immune from this threat.
Dr D’Silva added that GSK was concerned by recent reports of counterfeit Panadol products in Malaysia, especially since counterfeit products may pose a health risk to consumers. “Since becoming aware of these counterfeit incidents, GSK has been vigilant in monitoring the markets and identifying retailers/outlets selling counterfeit product in Malaysia,” he said.
According to Dr D’Silva, GSK conducts reviews of counterfeit products in Malaysia by investigation through customer sourcing.
The pharmaceutical company has already issued cease and desist orders to several entities who have since signed undertakings that they will cease all sale of counterfeit Panadol, he said. It also conducts regular checks to make sure these entities do not breach the undertakings.
In addition, GSK also works with a specialist anti-counterfeiting agency to initiate “market actions” such as in-store surveillance to expose the counterfeit supply chain, while simultaneously providing training to local authorities.
“We will continue to actively understand the source, scale and reach of counterfeit Panadol products; and work closely with authorities to take action against the production, sale, distribution and import of these products,” Dr D’Silva said.
Consumers in Malaysia can contact the consumer relations team at 1800 88 3225 if they have any concerns about a GSK product. They should also stop using the product immediately if in doubt.
Dr D’Silva added that GSK will take legal action against manufacturers, distributors, retailers and other parties found to be involved in counterfeiting its products.