When the outbreak of counterfeit medicines in the United States has started after the arrest of one of Canada’s largest online pharmacies, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Interpol made sure to inform every one of the negative effects of substandard, fraud and illicit drugs sold either in the gray market or through the internet. These warnings were also mimicked by non-profit organizations to reach larger audiences.
For months, The Peterson Group, one of the NGOs campaigning against the proliferation of fraud medicines and the widespread of drug scams, has focused on defining counterfeiting, its impact on health and society, side effects as well as on the latest news and information on its manufacture, distribution and usage globally.
Not too soon after, the public has received enough awareness. Some of those who have heard the news were sensible enough to start being cautious of the drugs they are taking. Others, especially women, started to take the information frantically while immediately consulting physicians of the possible intake of unknown substance and relying on alternative medicines for treatment. There are also a few who ignored the issue. This is perhaps because they were not able to fully comprehend and understand the extent of the problem. Nevertheless, precautions should still be implemented.
The best way to avoid counterfeit drugs is to reduce purchasing medicines abroad. Anticipated amounts of medications for chronic conditions (such as hypertension, sinusitis, arthritis, and hay fever), medications for gastroenteritis (such as travelers’ diarrhea), and prophylactic medications for infectious diseases (such as malaria) should all be purchased before traveling. Foreigners are more likely to be victims of medicine scams in generic pharmacies and gray markets in Jakarta, Indonesia who opt to buy Viagra and Tamiflu in cheap prices in the streets.
For travelers, you should purchase all medicines needed for the trip in advance. Prescriptions written in your own country usually cannot be filled overseas, and over-the-counter medicines may not be available in many foreign countries. Checked baggage can get lost; therefore, travelers should pack as much as possible in a carry-on bag and bring extra medicine in case of travel delays.
Also, make sure medicines are in their original containers. If the drug is a prescription, the patient’s name and dose regimen should be on the container.
Most importantly, bring the “patient prescription information” sheet. This sheet provides information on common generic and brand names, use, side effects, precautions, and drug interactions. And purchase from a trusted pharmacy after you research and review their legitimacy first.