Prescription Drugs

Geographic Distribution

Using the U.S. Department of State regional groupings of countries, slightly modified, incident data was analyzed with respect to seven regions of the world. Within the 4,344 pharmaceutical crime incidents, the Institute found:

  • A fifteen percent decrease (-15%) in the worldwide incident total

  • Latin America and the Near East were the only regions to experience an increase in new pharmaceutical crime activity in CY 2020

  • 137 countries were impacted by pharmaceutical crime

In the adjacent chart,  the regions are ranked in order from those with the highest number of incidents to those with the lowest.

It is important to note that the regions that are more frequently linked to incidents are not necessarily those with weak enforcement and inspection programs. Rather, countries in these regions are effectively identifying pharmaceutical crime through law enforcement activity and inspections by drug regulatory agencies. Many countries in regions with high incident totals are quite transparent in government operations, and their activities are known to the media and public.

Those regions with seemingly low incident totals are not necessarily unaffected by or at a lower risk of pharmaceutical crime. Due to competing law enforcement priorities, lack of funding or inadequate regulatory structures in certain regions of the world, counterfeit medicines often go undetected. It is important to recognize these facts since they complicate region to region comparisons.

Regions of World.png

Totals exceed 4,344 incidents because a region is included if it is the "origin, point of seizure or transit, or destination" of illegal pharmaceuticals.