The Dangers of Fake Medicines and How to Avoid Buying Them
As a consumer, you probably shop at reputable grocery stores and take your time selecting all the fish, meat, produce, and other food items before buying them to ensure their freshness and quality. After all, the last thing you want is to consume contaminated or spoiled food that can harm your family’s health. That said, do you tend to exercise the same level of care when buying medicines? Do you only purchase medications from trustworthy drugstores and closely inspect what you are buying? If not, it is high time you become more cautious about buying pharmacy products, especially drugs, since the proliferation of counterfeit medicines is a pressing concern in the country today.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 10% of medical products that circulate in low and middle-income countries, like the Philippines, are fake or substandard in quality. That means you cannot discount the possibility of purchasing falsified medicines unless you take the necessary precautions. To help you understand the gravity of this problem and what you can do about it, read on. This piece will discuss the dangers of taking counterfeit medications, and it will also offer practical pointers on how you can avoid buying them.
Harmful Effects of Taking Fake Medicines
Besides their inability to address the symptoms and illnesses for which they were intended, fake medicines can also cause adverse health consequences. Here are some of them:
- Development of antimicrobial resistance and drug-resistant infections
- Unpredictable reactions as key active ingredients are often absent, diluted, or replaced
- Increased chance of developing diseases or disorders since fake drugs are commonly manufactured using ingredients tainted with impurities or bacteria
- Prolonged illness
- Poisoning due to potentially toxic ingredients
- Death due to unresolved medical condition or because of an adverse drug event
4 Tips to Avoid Buying Counterfeit Medications
Differentiating fake medicines from authentic ones can be challenging without the use of necessary tools and technologies since counterfeiting techniques are becoming more advanced by the day. Nonetheless, there are several things you can do to prevent falling prey to substandard and counterfeit medications. From choosing drugstores to scrutinizing the packaging, here are four tips to help you avoid purchasing fake medicines:
Always Purchase from Reputable Pharmacies or Drug Outlets
Perhaps the best and easiest strategy to avoid counterfeit medications is to always buy from pharmacies or drug stores with a license to operate from the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Stay away from unofficial and unauthorized sellers like sari-sari stores because it is practically impossible to ascertain the quality and authenticity of the over-the-counter drugs they are selling.
Try to be extra careful when shopping online for medications as well. When you type “buy medicine online Philippines” on your browser, examine the resulting websites closely and stick to the online platforms of reputable pharmacies or medicine retailers in the country.
Better yet, visit the FDA verification portal to search for the name of the online drugstore you are eyeing and also to find other approved pharmacies. If you can’t find the name of the store in the FDA list, report the site to the FDA or the Center for Drug Regulation and Research to help curb the unauthorized selling and distribution of drug products.
Examine the Packaging
Fake drugs may look identical to authentic ones at a glance, but you will most likely notice distinct differences when you carefully examine the packaging. So, be on the lookout for the following red flags the next time you purchase your meds. If you notice one or more of these indicators, there is a great chance you are dealing with counterfeits.
- Hazy lettering
- Poor print quality
- Flat printing instead of raised printing
- Missing or unreadable expiration date or lot/batch number
- Grammatical errors
- Misspellings of the brand name, manufacturer, ingredients, and other details
- Noticeable tear or substandard packaging
Assess the Product Itself
Aside from scrutinizing the packaging, you should also assess the medicine itself to know whether you bought an authentic product or a counterfeit. Start with the appearance. Do you notice any changes in shape, size, color, and texture of the pill or tablet from the one you usually take? If there are noticeable differences, you may want to consult a physician or do your research to confirm whether the manufacturer changed anything.
You should also inspect the quality of the medication since legitimate pharmaceutical firms observe strict standards to ensure that their products maintain their factory-made appearance even after distribution and storage. Thus, you may want to avoid cracked or powdery tablets, deformed capsules, and syrups with unusual odor or consistency as they are most likely substandard or fake.
Check the Price and Be Wary of Offers
Illicit drug sellers often lure customers to patronize their products by offering significantly lower prices, incredible discounts, and other unbelievable deals. So, before you get tempted to purchase, you may want to check the price of the medicine in reputable drugstores for comparison. You can also visit the pharmaceutical company’s website to know the suggested retail price (SRP). Is the price difference too good to be true? Then there must be something wrong with the product.
The proliferation of fake medications in the country is a cause of concern not only for the government but also for consumers like you since using counterfeits comes with serious health risks. That said, you should remain vigilant and learn to exercise caution when buying prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs to avoid purchasing fake ones. Moreover, to help address this problem, remember to report illicit sellers and counterfeit medications to concerned authorities when you encounter them.