US: Big Pharma fights back against counterfeit sellers on Facebook

Big Pharma has the big guns out for illegal knock-offs of its products, as the suspected crooks behind thousands of fraudulent listings taken down from Facebook and other social media platforms have learned in the past year.

Adverts suspected of peddling fake copies of approved drugs to treat cancer, diabetes, and HIV felt the wrath of Big Pharma trade association the Pharmaceutical Security Institute (PSI) and its hired watchdog, London Stock Exchange-listed security company BrandShields.

During the twelve months following January 2022, Israeli firm BrandShield lived up to its name, guarding the profits of a pharmaceutical industry that has arguably garnered a more controversial reputation than any ordinary criminal could dream of.

That said, the cybersecurity firm remained unapologetic for its actions, insisting that they had potentially saved lives by removing 7,500 bogus drug ads, around half of which were on social media platforms.

“Year after year, cybercriminals continue to target consumers using counterfeit listings of potentially life-saving medications,” said Yoav Keren, its co-founder and CEO.

“Without adequate enforcement and proactive takedown efforts, fraudsters pose immense risks to public health,” he added. “We’re incredibly proud of our ongoing partnership with PSI to ensure consumers remain safe from physical and financial harm.”

YouTube was the most compliant platform for taking down illegal counterfeit adverts once notified of them, followed by Meta-owned Facebook and Instagram.

Nonetheless, the CEO of the PSI urged more vigilance to prevent criminals eating into the industry’s profits and potentially putting the public at risk.

“The continued presence of illegal pharmaceutical sales on social media platforms and other websites underscores the need for ongoing vigilance and collaboration with key industry stakeholders,” said PSI head C. Todd Ratcliffe.

“We look forward to continuing our partnership with BrandShield to safeguard consumers and the broader pharmaceutical industry from online threats and criminal activity.”

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