For Japan, says Shukan Jitsuwa (Nov 12), 2006 was Year One of the fake med influx that by now has risen to a flood tide.
In that sense Japan lagged behind much of the rest of the world, which began to be inundated by counterfeit medication in 2000. The magazine is surprised by the apparent indifference with which the Japanese public is responding to this dangerous infiltration.
The number one country of origin, the “superpower” of counterfeit production, is alleged to be China, with North Korea and India not far behind. And though the most lucrative merchandise seems to be fake Viagra, there are other products worthy of note, among them fake anti-Alzheimer’s drugs and, somewhat surprisingly, fake maidenheads for women who want to go, or rather seem to go, virgin to the marriage bed.
The arrest last June in Osaka of three alleged Japanese middlemen suggests the extent of the overall problem -- they had allegedly sold 60,000 tablets of fake Viagra.
The fakes are not necessarily without active ingredients, though in some cases they apparently are. The point is that the ingredients do not go through rigorous medical screening, and according to Shukan Jitsuwa are often produced in “appallingly unsanitary places.” Some deaths have been reported, though not so far in Japan.
Some users are deceived; others buy fakes knowingly. The draw is that they are considerably cheaper than the legitimate products. So appealing are the bargains that makers do not always even bother to conceal the fakery. Sometimes they actually boast of it, with labels that read, for example, “Nanchatte Viagra” -- “nanchatte” being suggestive of a joke.
The fake maidenheads -- cellulose strips that mimic the hymen, even to the point of emitting red blood-like liquid, are marketed under names like Joan of Arc Red, Holy Woman, and so on. These would seem of marginal interest in sexually liberated Japan, and in fact the prime markets are Islamic countries of the Middle East. (An outraged Egyptian government is considering banning their importation, says Shukan Jitsuwa.) But in Japan, though, there are sexually adventurous couples who will try anything -- even that.
Fake meds of all kinds constitute a real economic force -- in Japan it’s a nearly 4 trillion yen a year market, Shukan Jitsuwa estimates. The fakers’ gain, of course, is the legitimate medical industry’s loss.© Japan Today