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Stamp out trade in dangerous fake goods says MEP

January 10, 2012 1:37 PM

Illegal counterfeit drugsWest Midlands Euro MP Liz Lynne has called for joint action to stamp out the trade in dangerous counterfeit goods, after news that 165,000 bottles of fake vodka containing dangerous amounts of methanol were distributed to shops before Christmas.

Concern is growing that a substantial trade in fake medicines, alcoholic drinks and cosmetics are not only putting consumers' health at risk but also harming the UK economy due to lower duty and tax receipts.

In 2007 the UK Government's medicines watchdog issued a recall of thousands of drugs being used by the NHS to treat stroke patients, men with prostate cancer and schizophrenics because the drugs were discovered to be counterfeit.

Liz Lynne, First Vice President of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee in the European Parliament said:

"The recent seizure of fake vodka was only the most recent indication of a growing problem. This alcohol contained high levels of methanol which can cause blindness if drunk in large quantities.

"I am very concerned by the damage done to both consumers and the UK economy by fake branded food and drink and other products, which in some cases can pose a serious health risk.

"As well as fake goods, there is also a significant black market in smuggled genuine branded goods, especially drink and cigarettes, avoiding VAT and other duty payments. This is not just being sold near ports but all over the country.

"Tax avoidance at every level is even more important at this time, when public funds are scarce.

"Making sure your brand is genuine and paying VAT and other taxes on goods may not be the most popular New Year message but the UK is losing out to these criminal gangs so it is worth highlighting."

Recent reports by the International Chamber of Commerce put the annual cost of counterfeiting to the global economy at £386 billion.