Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Is Your Medicine Filled with Empty Promises?

Your doctor prescribed a medicine to cure what ails you, and at first the prescription seems to really do the trick, but lately it’s just not living up to its billing. What went wrong? Until recently few of us, would even utter the thought: Could it be counterfeit?

Counterfeit drugs are on the rise, and what’s worse they are infiltrating our legitimate supply chain. So what can you as a consumer do to minimize your exposure to counterfeit drugs?

The FDA has a very informative website to keep consumers abreast of developments. Listed on the site are the latest recalls and issues. Also listed on the site are steps consumers can take to minimize their risks:

1. Only buy from authorized sources such as your local pharmacist.
2. Avoid buying from internet pharmacies (unless VIPP approved). Over 50% of medicines bought over the internet are found to be counterfeit.
3. Avoid buying prescriptions from outside the US.
4. Be vigilant in examining your personal medication: Does it look the same? Taste the same? Are the seals and tamper proof packaging in tact?
5. After taking your medication, be sure to report any new and usual side effects to your physician.

To further combat counterfeit drugs, the FDA has developed a website reporting system to track consumer’s adverse reactions to prescriptions. Often consumers do not associate adverse reactions to the possibility that their medication could be counterfeit and some of these reactions (as seen in the recent heparin cases) can be fatal.

In this day and age, it really is “let the buyer beware!” A savvy consumer will be vigilant in their inspection of medication, cautious in their purchase, and insistent on the highest quality of standards from their pharmacist and his suppliers.

In the United States, you should report incidents to the Medwatch program by clicking the logo on the right. You can also call by phone: 1-800-322-1088.

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