Pharmaceutical counterfeiting is not only illegal but also harmful to the public’s health. Counterfeit drugs often have the correct ingredients in the wrong proportions and a different API (which could be hazardous) or no active ingredient at all.
Counterfeit drugs include:
- No active pharmaceutical ingredient (API).
- An incorrect amount of API.
- A lower-quality API.
- The wrong API.
- Repackaged expired pharmaceuticals.
Some counterfeit drugs may even be formulated incorrectly and produced in substandard conditions.
Both branded and less expensive generic drugs are vulnerable to counterfeiting.
6 In actuality, generic drugs are commonly confused with counterfeit medications, which may hinder the widespread use and adoption of generic treatments. This could pose a challenge for pharmaceutical businesses in countries that produce generic drugs, such as India, Europe, and Japan. Furthermore, any impact on the use of generic medicines could have far-reaching consequences.
What is the prevalence of fake medicines?
Fake drugs are less common in countries with strict medicine regulations, such as Australia, especially when purchased from trustworthy vendors such as registered pharmacies. If a pharmacist is caught dealing in counterfeits, their registration as a pharmacist may be revoked (link is external).
If you try to buy medicine online, you are more likely to come across a counterfeit version. Some websites appear to be Australian, but they are actually based in another country and distribute items there. A proportion of drugs marketed online, according to the World Health Organization, are bogus.
Counterfeiting poses a health concern.
All unapproved therapeutic commodities are dangerous, but counterfeit goods are far more dangerous. Anyone prepared to break the law to get your money may also be willing to defraud you or put their health at risk.
If a fake medicine is intended to treat a life-threatening condition, it may fail to treat the ailment, which can be fatal.
If fake drugs contain unreported substances or pollutants, they can induce unanticipated side effects. Furthermore, understrength antibiotics contribute to antimicrobial resistance in the case of diluted antibiotics.
How to Recognize a Fake
The fastest approach to authenticate fake medicines is to compare it to a genuine one. Because medicines are made to exact specifications, any differences in size, weight, colour, quality, or embossing could suggest a fake.
When you take a fake medicine, you may notice that something isn’t quite right, such as an unexpected reaction.
You might also notice package variations – sometimes they’re minor, like the colourful bars in the figure below, which are various lengths.
How can we combat counterfeits?
The Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 makes counterfeit therapeutic goods illegal and punishable by criminal and civil penalties.
To keep fake pharmaceuticals off the market, we collaborate with other Commonwealth, State, and Territory agencies. Fake pharmaceuticals discovered in Australia are confiscated and destroyed.
Don’t take the chance.
Counterfeit drugs can be difficult to spot. Reduce your risk by purchasing your medication from a licensed pharmacy. If you must purchase your medications online, ensure they are purchased from an Australian-registered pharmacy.
Keep an eye out for anything unusual about your medicine, and if you have any concerns, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Pharmaceutical businesses use a variety of anti-counterfeiting technology to ensure that genuine products are delivered from the factory to the pharmacy. Holograms, color-shifting inks, embedded codes, pictures, and dyes are technologies used by pharmaceutical companies. Pharmacists can use these anti-counterfeiting features to spot potentially counterfeit drugs.