LONDON, January 15 /PRNewswire/ --

- Hard-Hitting new Cinema Advert to Warn About Risks of Fake Medicine

- The First Collaboration of its Kind Between the Pharmaceutical Industry, Health Regulators and Patient Representatives to Combat the Threat Posed by Fake Medicine

- 330,000 Men in the UK Admit to Purchasing Prescription Only Medicine From Unregulated Sources(1)

- With Photo

A hard-hitting advert will hit cinema screens across the country this Friday (16 January) in a bid to warn people about the real risks of purchasing prescription only medicine, without a prescription, from unregulated sources such as illicit websites.

Created by Pfizer, the cinema and online advertising campaign is a unique, ground breaking initiative, enabling a unified approach by key organisations in the fight against fake medicines. These organisations include Pfizer, the UK medicines regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), and leading patient representatives including The Patients Association, Men's Health Forum and H.E.A.R.T UK.

The advert has been developed in direct response to new research highlighting that more than 330,000 men purchase prescription only medicines from unregulated sources, such as internet sites, every year in the UK(1). The hard-hitting creative, showing a man coughing up a dead rat after taking a pill bought from an illicit website, dramatises the fact that counterfeit medicines can contain potentially life-threatening ingredients(2).

Dr David Gillen, Pfizer's Medical Director said: We are thrilled to be collaborating with the MHRA and leading UK patient organisations to tackle the industry wide problem of counterfeit medicines head on. The time has definitely come to issue a clear, unified message to people about the dangers of purchasing medicines from illicit and unregulated sources.

This advertising campaign forms part of a wider public education campaign launched by Pfizer last year to ensure the public is aware of the health risks they are taking by buying and consuming counterfeit medicines, potentially without even a proper diagnosis from a qualified healthcare professional.

Mick Deats, Group Manager of Enforcement at the MHRA said, The MHRA will not hesitate to take action against those who undermine public health. There is considerable risk to the public from obtaining medicines through unregulated websites. If you feel that your medicine may be counterfeit, contact the MHRA's (Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority) dedicated 24 hour anti-counterfeiting hotline on +44(0)20-7084-2701, or by email to

The advert will run across 2,651 screens (around 600 cinemas) nationally from the 16th January until the 5th March 2009. To view the advert and obtain further information about the dangers associated with buying medicines from unregulated sources, please visit

Notes to Editors - Due to its graphic nature, the advert has been classified as a 15. Children under the age of 15 should not attempt to view this advert. - The advert is supported by the MHRA, The Patients Association, Men's Health Forum and H.E.A.R.T. UK. - If you have been offered what you suspect to be counterfeit products, or have seen them for sale, or have bought them, we would like you to tell us. The Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority (MHRA) has a dedicated 24 hour hotline: +44(0)20-7084-2701, E-mail: or write to: Counterfeits, The Intelligence Unit, MHRA, Market Towers, 1 Nine Elms Lane, London, SW8 5NQ. - If you think a medicine or herbal medicine has caused an unwanted side effect (an adverse drug reaction), please report the problem to the Yellow Card scheme

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is the medicines safety watchdog. The Yellow Card scheme has been used for over 40 years to collect information on suspected side effects from all types of medicines. These include prescription medicines, medicines you can buy without a prescription, and herbal and other complementary medicines.

The MHRA welcomes Yellow Card reports on any suspected side effects. Sometimes it is difficult to tell whether a possible side effect is due to a medicine. If you are not sure whether a medicine or combination of medicines has caused a side effect, but suspect it has, then please complete a Yellow Card.

If you are worried about a suspected side effect, contact a doctor or pharmacist, or call NHS Direct in England and Wales on +44(0)845-46-47 or NHS24 in Scotland on +44(0)8454-24-24-24.

- The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) provides a list of legitimate, approved online pharmacies on its website for people to check

About Pfizer

Pfizer Inc, the world's largest research-based pharmaceutical company, discovers, develops, manufactures and markets prescription medicines in 11 therapeutic areas including oncology, cardiovascular, pain, neuroscience and infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS. Pfizer is also the world's largest animal health company.

Pfizer Inc employs approximately 85,000 colleagues worldwide, all working together for a healthier world. Pfizer conducts more biomedical research than any other organisation, and has 12,000 professionals working in four major RD sites worldwide, including Sandwich in Kent. Pfizer's annual UK RD investment is more than GBP550 million - more than GBP10 million a week.

In the UK, Pfizer has its European RD headquarters at Sandwich and its UK business headquarters in Surrey, and is the major supplier of medicines to the NHS.

About the MHRA

The MHRA is the government agency responsible for ensuring that medicines and medical devices work, and are acceptably safe. No product is risk-free. Underpinning all our work lie robust and fact-based judgements to ensure that the benefits to patients and the public justify the risks. We keep watch over medicines and devices, and take any necessary action to protect the public promptly if there is a problem. We encourage everyone - the public and healthcare professionals as well as the industry - to tell us about any problems with a medicine or medical device, so that we can investigate and take any necessary action.


1. Pfizer: Cracking Counterfeit report, October 2008

2. WHO and IMPACT factsheet. Counterfeit drugs kill! Last accessed on 08.09.08 from

For further media information, please contact: Charlotte Binstead, Kate Thornton or Kate Aldous at The Red Consultancy, on +44(0)20-7025-6500 or email; Pfizer press office +44(0)845-300-8033 or