Everyone has taken medicine but does the thought ever occur that it may be fake. Counterfeit drugs have been on a rise all over the country (Counterfeit Drugs). The most common places are Canada, the United States, and parts of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Statistics from the FDA in 2013 state that, eighty percent of counterfeit drugs come from overseas and most are manufactured in China and India. They could be sold for good and bad causes. Since technology is so advanced in this generation, distributors can make a knock-off drug easily. This also means that someone can detect fake pharmaceuticals quickly. Systems have been created to try and stop this crime and so far they have helped (The Health and Economic Effects of Counterfeit Drugs).
There are many factors that contribute to selling and using counterfeit drugs. One factor is cost. Another one is easy access and low rates of licensed doctors. A patient may also try to self-diagnose themselves and come across a fraud website. Sellers will create a website to look like they are selling legal medicine from Canada, when the medication is not legal nor being manufactured and shipped from Canada. Sellers find this as an easy way to make money. Some of the medicines that are replicated are Viagra and common antibiotics. In 2011, fake versions of Adderall and Avastin were distributed all of the United States. They are also making money off consumers who are seeking illegal drugs, like Oxycodone, Percocet, and Xanax (Blackstone).
Drugs with no active ingredients are like rip-offs. They do not help your problems go away. These are also deadly because the body can start to build up a drug resistance, which will worsen problems for diseases like malaria and tuberculosis. Products with a higher dosage or have the wrong chemical in them, may leave you with lifelong disabilities or death. Counterfeits range from complete fakes that have been made by a counterfeiter, to original products with manipulated expiration dates.
They take advantage of the good reputation of products and brands that the original manufacturer established. Frauds are only interested in producing what looks like an exact copy. They do not care about the quality of the contents. In many countries, the risk of getting caught and punished for selling fake medicines is relatively low so counterfeiting medication can be more profitable than selling illegal drugs. Prosecuting foreign nationals for selling counterfeit drugs is hard, making more obstacles to overcome. In 2014, DOJ (Department of Justice) indicted 5 CanadaDrugs.com executives for selling seventy-eight million dollars worth of fake cancer drugs. Three years later, in 2017, Canada set an extradition hearing for May 2018. In 2018, the plea was approved, but there was no jail time given. They had to pay thirty-four million as a penalty, which is nor a fair penalty to taking away innocent lives and they made more in profits. CanadaDrugs.com shut down, but its license was transferred.
Counterfeit drugs can get through some facilities and doctors undetected, which can lead to them increasing the dosage if the medicine does not seem to be effective (Moran). Since 2012, smugglers caught selling fake drugs sold up to sixty-three medications to over 3,000 doctors, clinics, and hospitals across the U.S. The safety of millions of humans are being put to risk by this crime. Pharmacists are vital in ensuring the safety of medications used by patients. Some ways to follow through with this is ensuring purchases is from a known reliable source. Warn patients of the dangers of buying medication on the Internet. Inspect all packages for faulty seals and labels. It is important that pharmaceutical companies, healthcare professionals, pharmacists, and patients be educated about counterfeit medications and the laws being enforced to prevent this crime (Wall).
Counterfeiters mix or substitute medications with substances like floor wax, colored dye, powdered cement, boric acid, antifreeze, and bacteria-laced water. In one scenario, more than five hundred children across the globe died from cough syrup that was tainted with antifreeze. In another case, counterfeit inhalers were found to contain contaminated bacteria that went directly into the lungs of children that were being treated for pediatric cystic fibrosis (The Health and Economic Effects of Counterfeit Drugs).
On November 28, 2013, President Obama signed the Drug Quality and Security Act into law, which provides for a national track-and-trace system that would allow a specific drug to be followed from the manufacturer to the pharmacy. In many countries the government has made it mandatory to use it to put an end to this crime. This system uses radio frequency identification. Some common ways sellers and resellers try to protect the medication include things like blister packaging, barcodes, encryptions, holograms and many more (Rao). One tech company, Sproxil, has made it possible to check the drug for authenticity by scratching off the numbers and put it into their customized tracking system to see if the drug is really theirs or not. Although some companies are on board with taking these extra steps to ensure good quality products, others are not because of the extra money it will take for these systems to be successful.
Shopping online for drugs is more familiar, but there are still people who go around personally selling drugs. A man named Rick Hitsman went around selling Viagra for ten dollars per box. The usual cost is twenty-two dollars. He traveled back and forth between California and Arizona. Unluckily, one of his customers was a private investigator who bought his counterfeit Viagra and sent samples to a special lab for two years. Drug shortages increase sells of counterfeit drugs because of high demand. It has been estimated that people make over seventy-five billion dollars a year worldwide off of counterfeit drugs. The ultimate way of making money, if you are a counterfeiter, is to get into the legal supply chain, said Roger Bate, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and an expert on counterfeit prescription drugs. Even in the rich countries, the legitimate supply chain has been breached by counterfeiters. You could go into a CVS or a Walgreens to fill your prescription for whatever it may beit could be for a heart medication, a cancer drug, an antibioticand you could be killed by that medicine.