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Frequently Asked Counterfeiting Questions

How do you know if/when you've purchased a counterfeit medicine?

  • In some cases, patients have noticed a different taste, consistency, or appearance of medicines that are later identified as being counterfeit, or they may have a different reaction to the counterfeit drug.
  • However, in more cases, many consumers may not know that the medicines they've purchased are counterfeits. That's why it's important to purchase prescription medicine from a legitimate pharmacy and pharmacist with whom you are familiar.
  • If you suspect the Pfizer medicine you have purchased may be counterfeit, contact us at 1-800-438-1985

 

 

What is the most serious threat posed to patients in the U.S?

  • Currently, the most serious threat posed to patients in the U.S. is ordering medicines over the Internet.
  • The danger in ordering medicines over the internet is the complete lack of transparency as to the true location of the “pharmacy” and the source and authenticity of the medicines they dispense.
    • In the U.S., patients can safely fill prescriptions from an online pharmacy certified by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP).
    • NABP’s Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS™) program only certifies pharmacies that meet state licensing and inspection requirements.
    • To find a VIPPS certified pharmacy, patients should refer to the list posted to the NABP (https://nabp.pharmacy) or VIPPS (https://nabp.pharmacy/programs/vipps) websites.
    • While medicines can safely be purchased from those pharmacies that are licensed and registered, the vast majority are no more than convincing “shells.”
    • As reported in its September 2016 report, the NABP listed 10,925 internet pharmacies as “Not Recommended.”
      • 6,789 (62.1%) had no location posted on website
      • 9,693 (88.7%) did not require a valid prescription
      • 5,565 (50.9%) offered foreign or non-FDA approved medicines
      • 1,392 (12.7%) dispensed controlled substances
      • 9,652 (88.3%) appear to have affiliations with rogue networks of Internet drug outlets

What are the dangers of taking counterfeit medicines?

  • One of the biggest concerns is that you may not be getting the therapeutic benefit you expect from the medicine. For example, a medicine you count on to lower your cholesterol level—or to shrink a cancerous tumor—may not be providing any benefit at all. This is due to the fact that counterfeit medicines have been found to contain less than or more than the required amount of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) used in the authentic version. Others have been found to contain the correct amount of API, but have been manufactured in unsanitary, unsafe conditions. There could be a number of harmful ingredients in counterfeit medicines – boric acid, rat poison, brick dust, talc and wall board have been found in counterfeit medicines before.
  • A counterfeit medicine could also interact with other medications you're taking and create potential health issues.

How serious of a problem is the counterfeiting of prescription medicine?

  • Counterfeit Pfizer medicines have breached supply chains in 60 countries.
  • In countries generally considered "safe," such as Canada, the United States, and many of the European Union, counterfeit medicines have entered the  supply chain, including, but not limited to counterfeit Lipitor®(atorvastatin calcium), Norvasc® (amlodipine), Viagra® (sildenafil citrate) , Zithromax® (azithromycin) and Celebrex® (celecoxib).
  • During 2016, authorities from 50 countries seized more than 6.6 million dosages of counterfeit Pfizer medicines. Many of the raids resulted from leads developed by Pfizer Global Security.
  • However, it is not just Pfizer whose medicines are being counterfeited.  Based on Pharmaceutical Security Institute (PSI) data, counterfeit medicines were confirmed in 153 countries.

What are the consequences of counterfeiting?

  • If a person receives and takes a counterfeit medicine, they do not get the safe and effective medicine that they expect and deserve. These counterfeit medicines may instead put the person at significant risk.  The inferior quality of counterfeit medicines has led to illnesses, injuries and in serious cases, death.
  • Many of these counterfeit medicines have no active ingredients and may contain other chemicals that have no therapeutic value or purpose for the medical condition that is being treated.
  • This could lead to the acceleration or the progression of a disease.  In some cases, it may be difficult, if not impossible to provide treatment options after taking a counterfeit medicine.

What can you do to help?

  • Contact your pharmacist, doctor or us (1-800-438-1985) if you suspect or have questions about your medication.
  • Share what you now know with family and friends.