Knockoff diabetes tests? Yep, China

Testing blood glucose levels

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Scott Jagow: Today, another case of counterfeit products coming out of a China. This time, we're talking about a fake version of an at-home diabetes test made by Johnson & Johnson. Millions of Americans use it. Our correspondent in Shanghai, Scott Tong, joins us now. So, as I understand it, Scott, Johnson & Johnson launched their own investigation on this?

Scott Tong: Well I believe drug companies often hire private investigators to look into these things and the trail, a lot of this is according to reporting by the Bloomberg news service, is that Johnson & Johnson hired investigators who looked into the pharmacies where some of these suspicious strips were sold, which led them back to the wholesalers which led them to the importers which led them to Canada and eventually back to a company that is advertised as being in Shanghai.

Jagow: Scott, how big of a problem are counterfeit drugs coming out of China?

Tong: The World Trade Organization has tallied the cost of fake medicines at $32 billion. That's a global business. Much of that is suspected of being in the developing world and particularly in China. Domestically here in China there are frequently reports of substandard or fake antibiotics that are not as advertised, so they don't necessarily harm you but they don't help you the way they're supposed to help you. To China's credit, the laws have improved. The problem is that it's very hard to get into every province in China and to crack down on these things.

Jagow: What's been the response from drug companies like Johnson & Johnson in the past to this issue of counterfeit drugs?

Tong: Well the drug companies have hired a lot of investigators in China. It's quite a business here to be hired by a foreign multinational company to look at the knockoff industry in China. Some of the critics of the drug companies say that these drug companies because they don't want the bad PR of being associated with a fake medicine, that they're not straight with the American public about what they're investigating, the level or the fear that companies have of counterfeits being around the world.

Jagow: And has this case been wrapped up? Is that the end of this one?

Tong: Where we are is the man whose name is attached to the company has been arrested by authorities, he's in prison in China and he's awaiting a court decision in Shanghai.

Jagow: All right Scott Tong our correspondent in Shanghai, thanks for joining us.

Tong: OK Scott, thank you.

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