Information From Your Family Doctor

Avoiding Counterfeit Drugs

 


FREE PREVIEW. AAFP members and paid subscribers: Log in to get free access. All others: Purchase online access.


FREE PREVIEW. Purchase online access to read the full version of this article.

Fam Pract Manag. 2007 Mar;14(3):36.

Download in pdf format.

An article on this topic is available in the March 2007 issue of FPM.

Please note: For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit familydoctor.org, the AAFP patient education Web site.

Many popular prescription drugs are being counterfeited and distributed to consumers through online pharmacies, mail-order services and cross-border purchasing. These look-alike medications pose significant health risks, as key ingredients may be absent, diluted or poisonous.

To avoid purchasing counterfeit medications, follow these tips.

Use caution when shopping online for medicines. Approved online pharmacies should display the “VIPPS” seal, shown here. The seal should link you to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy Web site (http://www.nabp.net), where you can view information about the pharmacy or search for other approved pharmacies. Sites without the VIPPS seal may be selling counterfeit products.

Avoid purchasing drugs outside the U.S. border. Because of safety concerns, federa agencies prohibit individuals from importing prescription drugs into the United States in most cases. In Mexico, for example, counterfeit drugs account for 25 percent of medications, according to the U.S. Department of State.

Pay attention to pill appearance and packaging. If you notice any changes in pill size, shape, texture, color or taste from a previous prescription, discuss it with your doctor or pharmacist. In addition, examine the medication packaging. Hazy lettering, flat printing (rather than raised printing), and missing expiration dates or lot numbers are clues that a medication may be counterfeit.

Report suspicious medications. If you think you have received a counterfeit medication, don't use it. Return the drug to the pharmacy that gave it to you, or contact your physician or the manufacturer.


 

Copyright © 2007 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact fpmserv@aafp.org for copyright questions and/or permission requests.

Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions


MOST RECENT ISSUE


Jul-Aug 2016

Access the latest issue of Family Practice Management

Read the Issue


Email Alerts

Don't miss a single issue. Sign up for the free FPM email table of contents and e-newsletter.

Sign Up Now