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Counterfeit Medicine in the Pharmaceutical Industry

December 21, 2017

Consumers have an expectation that the prescription medications they take are legitimate, safe, and obtained from reliable sources. However, counterfeit medicine is a major issue in the pharmaceutical industry and something that industry professionals, doctors, and patients must be aware of.

Here is some information about counterfeit medicine in the pharmaceutical industry and ways to prevent the distribution and ingestion of fake drugs.

What Are Fake Drugs?

Fake drugs, also known as counterfeit medicine, may contain contaminated medicine, be the wrong dose, or contain incorrect ingredients. They are illegal and dangerous, which is why the FDA takes reports of counterfeit medicine very seriously.

Many of the fake drugs in circulation today are sold on the internet, manufactured in different countries than the websites claim, and do not comply with laws that are in place to protect patients. Lifestyle drugs that target weight loss and erectile dysfunction, very expensive drugs that treat cancer, and pain medications with high street value are often counterfeited.

Fake Medicine Effect on the Body

Many people depend upon prescription and over-the-counter medications to keep ongoing health conditions in check or to treat acute symptoms. When a person unknowingly consumes fake drugs, the symptoms of these conditions are not treated and unexpected side effects may occur.

Legal and Economic Implications of Fake Drugs

Not only do fake drugs pose health risks for the people who take them, but there are also troubling legal and economic implications. Patients may not have a viable action of recourse if the fake drugs were obtained illegally or if the true source of the medication cannot be traced. Fake drugs can also lead to increases in ER visits and follow-up care that wouldn’t have been necessary if the correct medications were taken.

How to Spot Fake Drugs and Ensure Medicine is Legitimate

Companies like TruTag Technologies have developed authentication platforms with edible bar codes to check for medication legitimacy. Holograms and serial codes that are easily visible can also help providers identify fake drugs before administering them to patients. To avoid counterfeit medicine, it is also advised to buy from trusted pharmacies and in-person rather than online.

Individuals who handle pharmaceutical products should use specialized pharmaceutical transport bags to make sure that medications aren’t destroyed or falling into the wrong hands. These types of bags establish a chain of custody and ensure that the correct type of medication and dosage is contained inside. Strap bags, postal bags, horizontal split bags, and no-print bags can also be useful for storage and shipping in the pharmaceutical industry.

Meanwhile, legislators have been working to impose greater punishments and harsher fines for producing and distributing fake drugs in order to deter this illegal activity. Fighting against counterfeit medication is everyone’s responsibility, including top pharmaceutical executives and law enforcement agencies as well. Patients should remain actively aware if their regular medications taste or appear different or if their bodies react differently to a familiar medication. The odds of receiving fake drugs from a legitimate pharmacy are very low, but it is still something to keep in mind, especially if the medication is being sold on sale or as part of a package deal.

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