HIV Warning As Fake Condoms Found In London


condomFake condoms that look like they are made by the country's biggest supplier are putting youngsters at risk of unwanted pregnancy and HIV infection, it was revealed today.

Worried bosses at Durex have placed adverts in the national press warning that a batch of counterfeit "extra safe" condoms has been sold in the UK.

The counterfeit condoms could put users in danger of catching Sexually Transmitted Infections, including HIV, as well as getting pregnant, a Government body warned.

The bogus packets of three extra safe contraceptives look identical to genuine Durex packs. The only difference is an outdated code number printed on the bottom.

Anyone who thinks they have used one of the fakes - which may have a fruity smell, appear dry, or have dots on - were urged to get in touch with their GP.

Durex said the rip-offs were sold in shops and not vending machines. The rogue condoms have only been found in London so far.

A spokesman for Durex, which supplies 30 per cent of Britain's condoms, said the firm had no idea about how the fakes had appeared in shops and has now taken out ads in national newspapers to warn customers.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said today that it had launched an investigation into how the condoms had got into the supply chain.

MHRA spokesman Stephen Hallworth said the group would contact pharmacies and GPs to warn them about the danger.

He said: "The counterfeit condoms could increase the risk of contracting an STI or getting pregnant because we don't know if they are manufactured to the appropriate British or European standards.

"The key thing is that if people are worried they have used them is to contact their GP, pharmacist, GUM or family planning clinic. Durex have also got a careline to call.

"A big problem is that it is very difficult to tell which are genuine and which are not. It is only when you open the packet you see they may have different characteristics to genuine condoms.

"We are currently conducting an investigation into how these counterfeit condoms reached the market and we will be liaising with Durex on that. We will also be issuing an alert to the public and pharmacists."

Durex spokeswoman Vanessa Mannings said the company could not refund customers for condoms not made by them, and said anyone who had bought a box should be able to tell if they had bought counterfeits.

She said: "We are not offering a refund on counterfeit condoms because they are not made by us and we are not liable.

"We have no idea how they entered the supply chain. It is one of the things about being a major company - counterfeiting is something that happens.

"Genuine extra-safe condoms are well-lubricated, they do not have dots or a fruity lubricant.

"The samples we have seen do have a banana smell and are quite dry. Others have dots on, instead of the smooth surface of genuine extra-safe condoms."

Ms Mannings said the code "20604354" had been used on packs of genuine condoms, but these should have already been sold.

She added: "The boxes do look identical to the untrained eye and the only thing that gives it away is the outdated code.

Only Durex extra-safe three packs of condoms are understood to have been affected.