Counterfeiting of Medicines in Hungarian Criminal Law

Dr. Bátki Pál attorney
Dr. Bátki Pál ügyvéd

In the Criminal Code, „counterfeiting of medicinal products” is a separate criminal offence from 1 January 2019. However, this name is misleading, as it is not only the classic counterfeiting of medicines that is a criminal offence. It can also include the acquisition of more than a certain quantity of a medicine of illegal origin. My clients are very often bona fide citizens who, after placing an order over the Internet, become suspects in a counterfeiting case.

Who commits counterfeiting of drugs?

It is not only someone who „copies” an original medicine who commits counterfeiting, but also, for example, someone who falsifies the documentation of an original medicine, or trades in a medicine not authorised in Hungary without a licence, or who holds an unreasonably large quantity of a medicine.

What constitutes an unreasonable quantity for the purposes of counterfeiting of medicines?

Under the Criminal Code, an unjustified quantity is defined as a quantity that is not intended to meet the personal needs of a specific person. This is therefore not quantified in criminal law, each case being assessed on its own merits.

What constitutes a falsified medicinal product?

A falsified medicinal product is one whose identity is falsely indicated. The falsification may concern the :

its packaging, labelling, name, active substances, excipients and the composition of the medicinal product, indicating their strength; the origin of the medicinal product and its history.

What medicines are typically counterfeited?

  • potency enhancers (both imitations of authorised medicines and unauthorised medicines, typically Kamagra or Viagra),
  • anabolic steroids (typically unauthorised drugs in Hungary),
  • medicines used in the treatment of psychiatric disorders (often imitations of authorised medicines),
  • products advertised as natural, herbal, which in fact contain artificially produced (synthetic) active pharmaceutical ingredients to enhance the effect.

How will I know if I am being prosecuted for counterfeiting of medicines?

Counterfeit medicine cases typically start with a seizure or search. After appropriate laboratory testing, a suspect is usually interviewed.

Read my other articles about Hungarian Criminal Law here

You can read about the EU law against falsified medicines here

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