Fake drugs labelled as Chinese tea; France in record haul

PARIS (AFP) - French customs have confiscated millions of counterfeit drugs imported from China in what they described as the biggest seizure of its kind within the European Union.

A total of 2.4 million doses of drugs for ailments including diarrhoea, headaches and erectile dysfunction were seized at the end of February in the port of Le Havre in boxes labelled as containing Chinese tea, customs officials said Thursday.

"Some of the drugs contain no active ingredient, which constitutes outright cheating of consumers," a statement from the customs executive said.

"Others have different levels of the active ingredient compared to the authentic drug which means they could represent a serious health risk for patients taking them."

According to French customs, the previous record seizure in the EU was for 1.2 million doses of counterfeit aspirin, also made at Le Havre in Normandy, in May 2013.

The problem of counterfeit drug production in China was highlighted last year when the country's authorities launched a crackdown which led to 1,300 arrests in December and the closure of dozens of unauthorised online pharmacies.