“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

Fake Merck Cocaine from China, 1922

Posted: November 14th, 2017 | No Comments »

Carl Crow in his great Four Hundred Million Customers tells of the travails of European and American pharmaceutical companies in China – piracy, IP violations, fakes, mis-labelling and their own unrealistic dreams of China sales. China in the 1930s had just 25,000 hospital beds – Crow did not successfully launch a single pharmaceutical. I think he gives the specific example of Bayer. Reading Norman Ohler’s Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany a while back he makes reference to Merck, whose cocaine (then legal with a doctor’s prescription) was considered the best in the world. Chinese pirates apparently packaged their own, slightly substandard product, in bottles printed with expertly faked Merck labels…by the million! Ohler cites a 1922 German report on the opium and morphine market.

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