A word of caution: if you recently travelled to the UK and purchased (and used) condoms, they may have been fake
An increasing number of fake condoms are turning up on shop shelves, according to the UK government's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulation Agency (MHRA).
In the last 18 months, millions of counterfeit condoms, including those from major brands such as Durex, have been illegally imported into the country, the BBC Newsbeat radio program reports. In August 2012, $2.3m worth of counterfeit condoms were seized at Heathrow Airport.
The phony condoms have been manufactured using inferior products and standards, causing them to have a high burst rate, offering no protection against STIs or pregnancy, say family planning experts.
A senior investigator said that the fake condoms are mainly found on sale in corner shops, newsagents and market stalls and warned consumers to buy condoms only from well-known retailers and pharmacies.
Because the counterfeiters have copied the brands so well - down to logo, packaging, date stamp and Kite mark (the UK product and service quality certification ) - sniffer dogs are being trained to detect the illegal products.
Closer to home, China suffered a similar scandal in 2010, where an underground workshop in Hunan province was caught manufacturing fake contraceptives. Laborers were found lubricating condoms with vegetable oil in unsterile conditions, passing off the counterfeits as high-quality-brand products.
A spokesperson for the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) said that while counterfeit medicines are a global public health problem, Australia is largely protected through a strong regulatory framework and border control measures.
"The TGA can only find complaints of importation and supply of condoms not included in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods, or other complaints about parallel importation of condoms which are approved for overseas markets and imported to Australia. Often the complainant is the sponsor of the approved "version" of the condom for the Australian market. Invariably the overseas products often have labels with language other than English."
"The growth of counterfeit goods in more recent times reflects both the expansion of international trade in medicines and medical devices, and the increased level of expertise and sophistication of those that produce and market counterfeit products."
Concerned about counterfeit therapeutic goods? Report the matter to the Therapeutic Goods Administration for investigation.