Authorities in the United Kingdom have arrested and convicted Dilbar Dishad for the illegal sale and supply of counterfeit dental drills. He was selling these fakes, which were identical to a reputable brand that costs about £335 (about $490), for only £75 (about $110) on eBay. He had purchased them for about £10 (about $15) from a Chinese company and using stickers to make them appear legitimate.
“Remember, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” said Alastair Jeffrey, head of enforcement with the Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Dishad was caught when a potential customer tipped off the authentic manufacturer. He was sentenced to 9 months imprisonment, suspended for 2 years, and 200 hours of unpaid work to be completed within 12 months. Also, he has been disqualified from being a company director for 5 years and must pay £2,000 (about $2,900) to the MHRA.
“Along with medicines, there is a growing and disturbing trend in counterfeit medical devices. From the counterfeit devices that have been identified, many are poorly manufactured and do not meet strict European requirements for the European Conformity (CE) marking of medical devices,” said Danny Lee-Frost, head of operations at MHRA.
“In relation to counterfeit dental products, there is a risk that their poor quality will result in failure in use; for example, disintegrating in the patient’s mouth,” said Lee-Frost. “The risk to patients’ health and safety from a device operating at high speed in close proximity to your teeth and gums is obvious.”
The MHRA works closely with the British Dental Industry Association (BDIA) and the General Dental Council to monitor the use of substandard, counterfeit, and illegal medical equipment and to promote awareness of the dangers it presents to patients and operators.
“MHRA is responsible for protecting public health, and we will continue to seek out and prosecute those who recklessly endanger the public by counterfeiting medical devices,” said Jeffrey.
During the past 4 years, MHRA has seized more than 700 counterfeit drills, though many more may be in use, it warns. In January, MHRA seized more than 100 counterfeit and noncompliant items including handpieces from a single chain of 14 practices. Other agency seizures of noncompliant and counterfeit equipment have included a nonapproved portable dental x-ray unit that could emit harmful radiation.
MHRA notes that there are no specifics about spotting counterfeits, as they often are externally similar to the goods they are replicating. Differences may be minor, but they aren’t easily spotted. Counterfeiters, MHRA says, are skilled in manufacturing the devices as well as the documentation related to authenticity, compliance, and guarantee.
The BDIA offers tips on spotting fake equipment and encourages dentists who think they may have counterfeits to report them online at http://www.bdia.org.uk/device-reporting.html through its Counterfeit and Substandard Instruments and Devices Initiative. It also urges dentists to avoid fakes by only purchasing equipment from its directory of BDIA members.
“It is vital that dentists and dental staff buy equipment from bona fide suppliers in order to avoid substandard, unapproved, or counterfeit devices,” said Jeffrey. “I urge all dental professionals to be cautious of seemingly cheap devices that may be unfit for purpose and potentially dangerous to patients and the staff that use them.”