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Posts Tagged ‘Counterfeit Medication’

A Look into Online Pharmacies

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

When someone says “online pharmacy,” what do you think? Discounted drugs, no need for a prescription, illegal activity… counterfeit or adulterated medications?

Online pharmacies tend to fall into the illegal activity and counterfeit medication categories. While there are some legal and legitimate online pharmacies out there (more on that in a minute), you need to be aware that more and more online shops are popping up selling expensive medications at better than wholesale prices.

Due to the fact that counterfeit versions of at least 40 of its drugs have been found in more than 100 countries, drug maker Pfizer and a national pharmacy standards group started a website warning consumers about counterfeit prescription drugs and explaining how to find legitimate online pharmacies.

One way to weed out the bad online pharmacies is to look at their prices. If they are too good to be true – they are. For instance, Pfizer’s drug Viagra typically is sold to distributors for around $18 per tablet. One online pharmacy sells 25mg tablets for between $1.09 to $2.49, and another list 130mg tablets from 99 cents to $1.31 per pill. How can they sell an $18 per pill drug for as little as one dollar? Where is the profit in that?

Scope of the Problem

While it is very difficult to measure how much illegal pharmacies are making from selling counterfeit medications, a case was recently in the spotlight concerning these online pharmacies. In August 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice demanded Google to forfeit $500 million in revenue generated by online ads for online pharmacies. $500 million on advertising is a big chunk of change – if these pharmacies can afford that, this business model is obviously lucrative.

Legitimate Online Pharmacies?

The controversy exits with online pharmacies. I am sure you have people (including your physicians) telling you not to purchase medications over the internet. However, there are legitimate safe online pharmacies. How can you find them? The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) developed the VIPPS accreditation program, which evaluates Internet pharmacy practice. A VIPPS accreditation verifies that the online pharmacy is a virtual equivalent to a brick and mortar shop down the street. But please, keep a watchful with online pharmacies – it should be noted that there are only 29 online pharmacies holding VIPPS accreditation.

Don’t Want to Be Duped?

Now you are thinking, “How can I protect myself from these online predators?” First of all, the easiest way is to avoid online pharmacies. However, there may be some instances where you cannot avoid it. What should you do then?

  1. Buy drugs only from trusted retailers (VIPPS accreditation) and stay away from non-regulated online pharmacies.
  2. If traveling abroad, please bring medications with you and avoid purchasing from countries with a high counterfeit mix (most notably African countries).
  3. The easiest and most resourceful way to avoid counterfeit products is to education yourself on the medications you take. An informed consumer is an empowered consumer. If the drug isn’t acting how it was when you took last month’s supply, it could be counterfeit. If the bottle looks tampered with, check with your pharmacist.
  4. If you have any questions or are worried about your medication, talk with your pharmacist about any recent counterfeit products or check the FDA or drug manufacturer’s website.

Counterfeit drugs and their effect on health & healthcare

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Counterfeit drugs are killing or greatly harming patients that are desperate for medical care. Estimates state that nearly 700,000 people are killed each year after ingesting counterfeit malaria and tuberculosis drugs.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that up to 30% of medication on the market in developing countries in Africa are counterfeit and have found that nearly 50% of the drugs sold in Angola, Burundi, and the Congo are of poor quality. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds of anti-malaria drugs in Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam contain insufficient active ingredients.

A 2003 Interpol survey on the quality of drugs available in Lagos, sub-Saharan Africa’s most populous city concluded that 80% of the drugs available were fakes. In 2008, more than 80 children in Nigeria died after being given medicine that looked, smelled, and tasted like the real thing, but was laced with antifreeze.

Why are the numbers so high? Jacqueline Sawyer, Liaison Officer at WHO’s Prequalification of Medicines Programme, told MediaGlobal “The problem of counterfeit medicines is more prevalent in countries where medicine regulation is ineffective, smuggling of medicines is rampant, secret manufacturing exists, sanctions are absent or very weak, and there is high corruption.”

Do not think counterfeit or tampered drugs only exist in developing countries. An estimated 1% of all medicines dispensed in developed countries are counterfeit. Medicines containing boric acid and other lethal substances have been found recently in certain medications.

To be sure that your drug is safe to use, check the FDA’s website. They announce drugs that might have been tampered with and also have correct packaging and dosage information.
Recent FDA Headlines:
FDA Warns About Fraudulent Tamiflu
Warning: Counterfeit Alli
FDA Issues Warning on Counterfeit Surgical Mesh

Full article here.
FDA here.