Saturday, 2 March 2013
NEW WARNINGS OVER A RISE IN COUNTERFEIT CONDOMS
The government's health regulator has warned there are a rising number of counterfeit condoms being smuggled into to the UK.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulation Agency (MHRA) claims millions have been illegally imported in the last 18 months. Family planning experts say the bogus condoms don't provide protection against STIs or pregnancy. Tests carried out on many of the fakes show they have a high burst rate. Senior investigator Danny Lee-Frost said: "These products are made in the Far East for pennies and then sold over here for pounds. "They will cut corners. They will cut costs. They will use cheaper ingredients and materials." He says the condoms are mainly being found on sale in corner shops, newsagents and market stalls. He said: "It's vital that people buy condoms from well-known reputable retailers and pharmacies."
In August 2012 £1.5m worth of counterfeit condoms were seized at Heathrow Airport. A similar haul was discovered in Yorkshire. Trading Standards say they are also regularly intercepting them across the country.
Ricky Dixon, left, and Jay Dhadwa couldn't tell the difference
Counterfeiters have managed to copy major brands like Durex to convince people. A sample of fakes we were shown fooled Jay Dhadwa, 25, and 24 year-old Ricky Dixon. Jay said: "I can't believe they aren't the real deal. They look and feel exactly like real ones. They've got the expiry date on the back too and the kite mark. It's impossible to tell." Danny Lee-Frost admitted: "They certainly look the part. Many people would think it's the proper article." He says the best way to avoid being caught out is to make sure you buy condoms from reliable places. "If you're not buying it from a reputable source, it's odds on that it is counterfeit and you shouldn't go anywhere near it."Sniffer dogs
The MHRA has now employed the help of the UK's first sniffer dogs trained to try to detect counterfeit condoms. The dogs might be able to tell the difference but authorities are worried many of the counterfeits are difficult to detect because they look so similar to the real thing.
Paul Maddox is responsible for the dogs' training and said: "I was really surprised when I found out about the problem. I've heard about counterfeit medicines but I never thought condoms would ever be an issue. "When we've trained the dogs up we managed to find a chink in the counterfeiters' armour and we've exploited that. That's why the dogs have been successful."
Paul Maddox trains sniffer dogs that detect counterfeit condoms
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