Date of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Type



Moore School of Business

Director of Thesis

Dr. Daniel Ostergaard

Second Reader

Dr. Melanie Cozad


This research seeks to identify and analyze emerging trends in the Chinese counterfeit pharmaceutical trade, extending from the supply chain’s point of origin to domestic and overseas retail dispensary. To aid readability, Chapter 1 of this thesis opens with key conclusions and policy recommendations for various Chinese and U.S. stakeholders based on the shortcomings identified in Chapter 5. Chapter 2 begins with a review of international roadblocks to diagnosing the issue, such as lack of consensus on working definitions and cross-border discrepancies in pharmaceutical oversight regulation. This section also provides a general overview of existing factors driving demand for counterfeit medicine worldwide. Chapter 3 continues the literature review by answering the question “Why China?”—it provides context into China’s counterfeiting history and reactive risk management approach to demonstrate that the country’s counterfeit drug production constitutes a national security and global public health threat. This chapter analyzes China’s regulatory weaknesses and healthcare landscape to explain why it is uniquely positioned to meet global demand for inexpensive, alternative medicine.

Chapter 4 takes on the critical research question of how China’s counterfeit drug trade has evolved with the current wave of globalization. This section utilizes systematic review and thematic analysis frameworks to identify three overarching globalization trends that are underrepresented in current research—specifically, how China’s geopolitical influence, use of Internet platforms, and the COVID-19 pandemic have enhanced China’s ability to proliferate counterfeit pharmaceuticals. The purpose of this chapter, therefore, is to bridge disparate observations in existing research and to demonstrate that China’s current counterfeit drug landscape stems from a larger, non-state driven globalization. Chapter 5 concludes with a discussion of current U.S. and Chinese anticounterfeiting projects and their potential weaknesses in light of the new threats identified in Chapter 4.

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