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Prescription Drugs

Incident Trends

The PSI has collected data on counterfeiting, illegal diversion, and theft incidents for twenty consecutive years. The yearly totals for the last five years are shown in the line graph below.




The graph shows:


  • There were 5,987 pharmaceutical crime incidents in CY 2021


  • Incidents increased by thirty-eight percent (+38%) from CY 2020


  • The increase in new incidents can be attributed to the easing of pandemic restrictions, and criminal organizations taking advantage of new opportunities

To gauge the magnitude of these counterfeiting incidents, the PSI continued to track the quantity of drugs seized. Incidents involving the seizure of more than 1,000 dosage units were classified as a commercial incident; incidents involving less than 1,000 dosage units were classified as non-commercial.

The Institute found:


  • 555 counterfeiting incidents involved either customs seizures or police/health inspector raids


  • Seizures increased by +101% over the prior year


  • Commercial seizures represented sixty percent (60%) of the total


  • Twenty-six percent (26%) of the seizures were non-commercial


While non-commercial size seizures worldwide vastly outnumber commercial size seizures, the PSI focuses on the documentation of organizations engaged in pharmaceutical crime.  As most non-commercial size seizures of illegal pharmaceuticals are intended for personal use, they are not counted among PSI incident data unless a specific criminal network is identified.


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