Washington, DC – The International Intellectual Property Institute (IIPI) released today Counterfeit Goods and the Public’s Health and Safety, a report report urging the global community to recognize growing public health and injury problems presented by counterfeit goods.

Seizure data from the fields of intellectual property and trade indicate that quantities of counterfeit goods, particularly counterfeit alcohol, drugs, food, personal care items and cigarettes, are increasing each year. The report, commissioned by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), also finds that there are virtually no data directly linking counterfeit goods and injury, as relevant materials do not disclose data on injuries for which counterfeit goods are mechanism of injury.

“Counterfeit goods cause injuries in many ways,” notes IIPI consultant and report author, Michele Forzley, JD, MPH. “The problem ranges from forged labels on baby formula to drugs that lack active ingredients. Some counterfeit products are made with incorrect or contaminated ingredients or have none of the active ingredients that result in the product working the way it is intended.”

“Counterfeit goods are implicated in global fatal and non-fatal unintentional injury statistics,” adds Forzley. “We found that counterfeit goods contribute to the global burden of disease from unintentional injury, but we cannot quantify for which injuries and deaths because counterfeit goods are not coded in ICD as a mechanism of injury.”

The IIPI/USPTO report highlights the growing problem of counterfeit goods in developing nations. Forzley’s findings indicate that concerns are the greatest in countries where the legal underpinnings of an intellectual property rights and a public health and safety system remain nascent.

“This report recognizes counterfeiting as a problem for both the intellectual property legal system and the public health and safety organizations in countries around the world,” notes IIPI President Bruce A. Lehman. “This is the first report to systematically review available materials and begin the scientific study of counterfeit goods as an unintentional injury mechanism.”