The Swedish Medical Products Agency is launching a nationwide television campaign to inform Swedish citizens that more than 60% of prescription drugs sold on the internet are fake or substandard.

The move reflects the increasing spate of counterfeit drugs both in Sweden and around the world and the growing need to increase awareness of the dangers.

The campaign involves television commercials of a bogus company known as “Crime Medicine” which attempts to lure viewers to the website www.crimemedicine.com.

At first glance, the site appears to be a legitimate online pharmacy but within seconds computer graphics are used to make the homepage fall apart to reveal authentic police pictures of basements and illegal drug manufacturing sites.

“We are aware that this is not a common way for authorities to communicate; however, we felt that we needed something really different for people to really understand the seriousness of the situation,” said Ursula Forner, Communications Director at the Swedish Medical Products Agency.

“Consumers should be aware that what they order on the net and get delivered home in the mail may not be what they think it is. Medications have been found to include floor polish, blue ink and heavy metals, ingredients that have nothing to do with drugs,” she said.

A survey in 2007 found 3% of the Swedish population between the ages of 25 and 65 had ordered medications on the internet, while 35% said they would consider using the internet to find prescription drugs.

There have been several reports in Sweden of people either becoming ill or dying from counterfeit drugs.

According to a study by the European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines, as many as 96% of online pharmacies are fake.