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Invitation to the final ALPhA-Conference

Here you can find all necessary information about the final ALPhA-Conference in June 2016 in Osnabrück

The invitation file

The Reply Card of participating in the Final Conference

(Please send in postal or via fax: + 49 (0) 541 969 485 2)


International Conference on Pharmaceutical Crime on the 20th and 21st of June 2016 in Osnabrück

The research project “Auswirkungen der Liberalisierung des Internethandels in Europa auf den Phänomenbereich der Arzneimittelkriminalität” (ALPhA, English: effects of the liberalization of the Internet trade in Europe on the phenomenon of pharmaceutical crime) was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research for two years to the value of 1.7million euro. The results were made public at an international conference on pharmaceutical crime 20-21 June 2016. More than 100 participants from all over Europe and beyond gathered in the castle of Osnabrück University to discuss the findings and the future aspects of countering pharmaceutical crime, including delegates from Interpol, Europol, the Council of Europe, the EU Commission, German Customs and Federal Police, as well as patient safety and pharmacy organisations and the German Ministry of Justice inter alia. The opening address was given by Jürgen Storbeck, retired Director of Europol.

The ALPhA-project focuses on the illegal trade of falsified medicinal products via the Internet. Organised criminals have entered in to the growing legal market of trading all types of medicinal products at a distance in particular prescription-only medicines. The high profit margins and the low risk of detection in combination with limited penalties of prosecution have accelerated criminal activity in this lucrative area of crime. It is now regarded as even more attractive than the trade in narcotics. Pharmaceuticals are therefore becoming the new cocaine.

The health risks for consumers are considerable. They are rarely able to distinguish legal from illegal online distribution channels and many criminals have started to offer their products via Internet shops that pretend to be legitimate pharmacies. With website platforms that are similar or identical to legitimate ones, the consumer is unwittingly placed in danger as the medicinal products offered may contain too little, too much or no active ingredient at all and many have been known to contain harmful substances. It is not only life-style medicinal products that are advertised online but all types of medicines. In the yearly crack down on criminal networks co-ordinated by Interpol up to 63 different medicines have been seized at customs. To camouflage their true identity and rank illegal offers of medicinal products high on search engine results, hackers are placing them within the domains of legitimate websites.

The research project ALPhA followed a holistic approach to analyse pharmaceutical crime in the digital age. Its findings were presented at this international conference. The surveys which were conducted with medical doctors, pharmacists and citizens were presented and helped to shed some light on the dark figure of pharmaceutical crime. In addition to the analysis of the current situation in Germany, experts from Europol and Interpol enabled the delegates to grasp the global nature of this phenomenon. This was followed by multi-disciplinary panel discussions and Q & As comprising delegates from the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), the German Customs Investigation Bureau as well as pharmacist associations and the pharma industry.

Additional input was provided by regulatory agencies, not for profit patient safety organisations, other national and international research project delegates and the Council of Europe. The analysis was complemented by technical solutions for the online-prosecution of pharmaceutical crime that can be used specifically in criminal investigations.

A cornerstone of the ALPhA project findings has been the comparison of the legal landscape across 28 EU member states, with particular focus on criminal law and fines. Alternative intervention and prevention mechanisms of private and public law were also researched.

In conclusion, a comprehensive review of the legislation has been completed on how pharmaceutical crime is addressed across the EU landscape. Assessing the differing laws and deriving concrete recommendations has generated a solid basis for countering pharmaceutical crime with more effective legislation in Germany and the EU.

The ALPhA research has shown that the legal situation regarding pharmaceutical crime in Europe varies greatly from one member state to another. It also revealed different safety standards of the distribution of medicinal products via the Internet and confirmed the consumer’s lack of knowledge on how to distinguish legal from illegal online sellers of medicinal products.

Therefore, one of the key recommendations by the ALPhA group is to encourage the implementation of an EU-wide harmonisation exercise of the criminalisation of pharmaceutical crime and applicable sanctions. This should be carried out with urgency given the potential impact on patient safety.



Press review to final ALPhA-Conference 

Subsequently you can see the press reviews of the final ALPhA-Conference which took place in Osnabrück on the 20th and 21st of June 2016 (Unfortunately only in german):

Pharmazeutische Zeitung
Deutsche Apotheker Zeitung
Focus Online
Osnabrücker Radio

Articles prior to the Conference: