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Counterfeit medicines: how to distinguish a fake?

Victor LitvinenkoNews
How to identify counterfeit medicines. Source: https://ru.freepik.com/author/freepik

The level of counterfeit medicines in the world is a serious public health problem. It is difficult to estimate the exact amount of counterfeit medicines, but some estimates give an idea of the scale of the problem.

In 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that about 10% of medicines offered on the global market are counterfeit. This number may be higher in some regions, especially in developing countries. The sale of counterfeit medicines can lead to serious health consequences, including lack of efficacy, development of unwanted side effects, and even death.

Efforts are being made in various countries to combat drug counterfeiting, including improving traceability and quality control systems, introducing technologies such as QR codes and RFID tags, and strengthening legislation. However, the problem remains urgent and requires global cooperation to be effectively addressed.

The key factors that influence the level of drug falsification include:

  • Location: Problems of drug counterfeiting may be more prevalent in some regions, especially where there is insufficient control and oversight by health authorities.
  • Types of medicines: Categories of medicines, such as cancer, hepatitis, diabetes, psychotropic drugs, and HIV medicines, are more susceptible to counterfeiting due to high demand and high prices.
  • Market demand: In low-income countries with insufficient access to quality medicines, more counterfeit medicines may be produced.
  • Lack of regulation: countries with weakened drug regulation and quality control systems may face higher levels of counterfeiting.

It is important to identify counterfeit medicines

Identifying counterfeit medicines can be challenging, but there are several steps and strategies that can help, there are some common signs and strategies that can help you make sure the medicine is authentic:

  • Buy medicines only from licensed pharmacies, avoid dubious online pharmacies or marketplaces that do not have strict quality control.
  • Counterfeit medicines often have poor quality packaging. Check for printing, logo, information about the manufacturer, and production date. Be on the lookout for imperfections, such as jagged edges, poor printing, or spelling errors.
  • Research the brand and name of the medicine on the Internet. Go to the official websites of the manufacturers to find out what the correct packaging looks like and what safety measures are in place.
  • Some medicines have unique identifiers, such as barcodes, QR codes, or special labeling. Make sure they are present and match the information on the medicine.
  • If the price of the medicine is too low compared to the usual market prices, it may be a sign of a counterfeit product.
  • If you have any doubts about the authenticity of the medicine, consult your pharmacist. Licensed pharmacies are obliged to provide only quality medicines.
  • Counterfeit drugs may differ in color, shape, and texture. If the medicine is different from the usual type, you should be vigilant.
  • Make sure that the batch number and expiration date are indicated on the package and match the data on the box and label.
  • Some drug manufacturers provide special services and mobile apps to verify the authenticity of products. This may include scanning the barcode.

In case of any doubts or suspicions about counterfeit medicines, it is important to immediately contact law enforcement or security authorities for additional verification and advice.

What is the penalty for counterfeiting medicines?

The penalty for counterfeiting medicines depends on the country's legislation. Different countries have different laws and standards regarding the production, sale and distribution of medicines, as well as the penalties for counterfeiting.

  • In the United States, counterfeiting of medicines is considered a serious crime. The Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act and the Drug Quality and Security Act provide for criminal penalties, including imprisonment and fines.
  • In the European Union, violations of the rules governing the manufacture and sale of drugs can also lead to criminal liability. Penalties include imprisonment and fines.
  • In India, counterfeit medicines are considered a criminal offense. The law provides for imprisonment and fines for those involved in counterfeiting medicines.
  • In China, the production and sale of counterfeit medicines also falls under criminal law. Punishment can include imprisonment and heavy fines.
  • African countries also have legislation aimed at combating counterfeit medicines. Penalties vary, but include imprisonment and fines.

The general trend is that counterfeiting of medicines is considered a serious criminal offense and the penalties can be quite severe. They can vary depending on the degree of involvement, the harm caused by the counterfeiting, and other factors.

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