New drugs are invented every year. Their total cost is approximately $27 million – about 1% of the entire pharmaceutical market. Thus, the risk of buying a counterfeit from a pharmacy is very small. However, there is also a factory defect or poor-quality drugs that simply will not cure a patient.
MLST Trust Pharmacy has been working in the pharmaceutical market for over 10 years and has close cooperation with the leading pharmaceutical companies. The company will tell you how to identify a fake medicine.
What drugs are considered defective?
When you hear that a certain percentage of drugs are defective, this does not mean that the drugs are dangerous, cause any reactions or have no therapeutic effect at all.
The drugs are produced with accompanying quality documentation. It lists the main characteristics, for example, the weight of one piece, solubility, uniformity, storage stability, heavy metal content, coating strength and smoothness, mechanical strength, average weight, and other parameters.
The drugs are sampled, so if the characteristics from the quality documentation do not correspond to reality, the batch is considered rejected. However, such medicines are unlikely to cause irreparable harm to health.
You’d better check all this before making a purchase at a pharmacy. Please note that it will not be possible to return the purchased drugs.
A series of drugs can be rejected even if the instructions are unclear or the expiration date is poorly visible.
What rules should be followed when buying drugs from pharmacies?
To protect yourself from fakes and buy a drug that really heals, you must adhere to several rules.
- When buying drugs, you need to pay attention to their packaging. It should be smooth, not wrinkled, clean, dry, with a clear inscription of the expiration date and the name of the medicine. You should not purchase the drug without a hologram or sticker on the package;
- If you have already bought such a medicine, pay attention to the size and color of the package. If you notice something unusual, you’d better check with the pharmacist since the manufacturer could simply change the design;
- It is necessary to examine the packaging of the drug. All information should be clearly visible on it: the name of the medicine, dosage, quantity, batch, expiration date, barcode, storage conditions, conditions for dispensing from the pharmacy, registration number. You’d better check with the pharmacist for information about the medicine if the packaging contains inscriptions only in foreign languages or there are errors in the text;
- Before buying a medicine, it’s recommended to take out the blister or bottle with the medicine from the packaging and inspect the contents with the pharmacist – check the presence of all the tablets and the volume of the liquid form of the medicine. It is necessary to correlate the expiration date indicated on the box and on the blister, compare the instructions and the contents of the package. The document for the tablets indicates shape, color, the number of tablets. All these data must be verified with the contents of the package;
- Check for instructions in the package. It must be printed by a typographic method. Additionally, you can check with the pharmacist about the storage conditions of the drug or read these data in the instructions;
- Do not forget to check the expiration date of the medicine, as it may have expired.
What are the documents required for a medicine?
It is important to read a prescription correctly before purchasing a medicine. Typically, buyers incorrectly name a drug, dose, or formulation. Pay attention to the composition and excipients, whether you are allergic to them.
If you have checked everything but still have doubts or you simply decided to make sure that you need this particular medicine, you can ask the pharmacist to show documents for the drug.
The pharmacist can provide the buyer with information from the shipping documents – the registration number of the declaration of conformity and the body that registered it, a copy of the declaration of conformity, or a certificate of conformity. The manufacturing organization indicated in these documents must match the one written on the package.
The instructions for the drug also contain the name of the manufacturing organization, its address and phone number. You can call and clarify whether it really released this series of the drug. The number is written on the package.
If you are buying a dietary supplement in a pharmacy, you can request a certificate of state registration.
If you order or buy medicines, vitamins or dietary supplements online, please note that not all documents can be obtained immediately. However, it’s better to check them anyway. When buying drugs online, you can see if the drug is registered. Drugs@FDA includes information about drugs approved for human use in the United States.
Today, QR codes should be printed on drug packages. With their help, it will be possible to trace the movement of the drug from the manufacturer through the network of suppliers to the pharmacy and to the end consumer. Thus, it will be possible to reduce the risk of purchasing a fake. For example, you can use a mobile application to track whether the drug was actually produced by the organization indicated on the package, or whether it was rejected.
It is important to remember that drugs must be purchased from licensed pharmacies or drugstores. You should not buy medicines from individuals by hand, from a tray, at a market, fair, beauty salon, or at exhibitions.
What to do if you bought a low-quality medicine
If you nevertheless bought a defective drug or a fake, first of all, you need to contact the pharmacy or the attending physician and fill out a “notice of adverse reaction or lack of therapeutic effect of the drug.” You can request the analysis in the control and analytical laboratory. If you are 100% sure that you bought a fake, you need to report it to the FDA’s MedWatch office or FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations.
Usually, if there are clear signs of counterfeiting that a non-pharmaceutical buyer can see, the pharmacy worker will also notice some kind of inconsistency and “sound the alarm” even before the medicine goes on sale. However, in any case, you should carefully check the medicine before paying for it.