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Organised Theft of Medicine: The Methods for Stealing and Fencing Large Quantities of Medicinal Products

Thu, Nov 17, 5:00 to 6:20pm, M107, Marquis Level


Theft of medicines and medical devices is a relevant component of the illicit trade in pharmaceutical products. Besides small-scale thefts committed for personal usage by the criminals, evidence demonstrates an increasing number of large and heavily organised criminal schemes usually targeting highly-priced medicines and products, such as oncologic drugs or endoscopes. This trend is further amplified by the Covid-19 pandemic situation that generated new criminal opportunities. Criminals usually steal medicines and medical devices with the aim of either reintroducing illicitly stolen products into the legal supply chain or selling them on the black market. Consequently, this has relevant impacts that go beyond the value of the stolen products. Indirect effects of this crime can harm the health of citizens and the economy of states by damaging legitimate companies on the market and the national health systems. However, the currently available knowledge on the theft of medicines is far from being complete. This paper presents some preliminary results of the EU-funded Project MEDI-THEFT to provide a comprehensive analysis of the most common modi operandi used by criminals to steal and fence medicines and medical devices. Potential remedies and policy implications are also discussed.