Most of us are fortunate to live in countries where we don’t have to worry about counterfeit drugs. We can be confident that the prescription we receive, or the drugs we purchase from the pharmacy, are of high quality and contain exactly what’s on the label. But in these same countries, there’s another group of products where the risks of counterfeits are very real – it’s among the dietary supplements that are often found on the same shelves. Dietary supplements are not regulated in the same way as drug products. The American supplement industry is a multi-billion dollar free-for-all with little meaningful safety or quality regulation. Supplement quality and safety issues are in the media regularly as a result. The most recent example comes from the New York State attorney general’s office. It has accused four large retailers of selling supplements that failed to contain labelled ingredients. Testing the products with a technology called “DNA barcoding”, the AG’s office concluded that most of the products contained little to none of the labelled ingredient. And they also found ingredients that were not disclosed on the label. The AG’s office has demanded these products be removed from store shelves, and the stores stand accused of fraud. (more…)
Posts Tagged counterfeit pharmaceuticals
A resistant strain of bacteria –created by partially effective counterfeit antibiotics – doesn’t need a VISA and passport to get to the U.S.
– Paul Orhii, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, Nigeria
I attended a conference in DC yesterday called, “The Global Impact of Fake Medicine.” Although I had initially wondered if homeopathy and the supplement industry would be the subjects of discussion, I quickly realized that there was another world of medical fraud that I hadn’t previously considered: counterfeit pharmaceuticals.
Just as designer goods have low-cost knock-offs, so too do pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Unfortunately, counterfeit medical products are a higher risk proposition – perhaps causing the death of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide each year.
It is difficult to quantify the international morbidity and mortality toll of counterfeit drugs – there have been no comprehensive global studies to determine the prevalence and collateral damage of the problem. But I found these data points of interest (they were in the slide decks presented at the conference):