Is your medication counterfeit or the real thing?  Cases of counterfeit medications being passed off as the real thing are on the rise. It’s estimated that fake medicines make up 10% of the global pharmaceutical trade. The FDA recently announced they had participated in an operation that stopped 500 shipments of illicit, unapproved prescription drugs and medical devices coming from India. They stated that “Investigators examined more than 800 shipments, which identified approximately 50 different FDA-regulated products, including medications intended to treat and or mitigate serious diseases, such as various forms of cancer and HIV. Many of the shipments, which included opioid drugs products, had been transshipped through third-party countries to conceal their point of origin and avoid detection.”  In 2019, they destroyed over 17,000 products deemed to contain unapproved or dangerous medical products.

Many people think counterfeit medication is only a worry for people buying drugs off the street.  Not so. In 2016 a Chinese counterfeiter was collecting empty vials of cancer medication from hospital trash cans and refilling with water and chemicals then sold them into the European medical supply chain. A Canadian retailer then purchased the fake medication and began shipping them into the US.  The FDA has issued alerts for counterfeit Botox, Viagra, Cialis, Valium, Xanax, Adderall, Avastin, Tamiflu, and Lipitor.

pills in hand counterfeit medications


How can you protect yourself from counterfeit medications?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued some tips for identifying counterfeit medication.  Examine the packaging carefully.  Counterfeiters often print packaging with misspelled words or grammatical errors.  Make sure manufacture and expiration dates on the outer packaging match the dates shown on the inner packaging. Check the inner packaging for traceable manufacturer information and production codes.  Check to see that the medication looks like it’s supposed to by comparing it to images published by the manufacturer.   And last but not least — be incredibly careful if you buy prescription medication from the internet. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy recently evaluated 100 websites selling medications and found that almost all were operating illegally and selling drugs without a prescription. Over half (54%) were selling controlled substances and 40% were offering drugs that are frequently counterfeited with fentanyl.  Even more frightening, a NABP review of 12,000 internet drug outlets selling prescription medications found 95% to be out of compliance with US pharmacy laws and practice standards.  Make sure the pharmacy has  a physical address and phone number.  Verify them before you buy.  Ask and confirm that a US state licensed pharmacist is available to answer any questions you may have.  And check their URL. The URL’s for websites that end with “.Pharmacy” (not .com or .net) are certified by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy to be in compliance with laws and practice standards.


Man drinking dirty water water test

Do you think someone has put something in your food?

We can test food for chemicals and poisons as well as drugs.  Whether you think it was deliberate or accidental, we can find out if there’s something in your food that shouldn’t be.

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