Counterfeit medicines are rampant in countries where law enforcement and regulations are weakest. In most industrialized countries, there are rules that prevent counterfeiting but in developing nations, these rules are not based in anything because of the lack of knowledge of its manufacture and production even from professionals. Cities like Jakarta, Indonesia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Singapore are now integrating practices from America for security measures and importing.
The Peterson Group, a nonprofit organization with an aim to eliminate the illegal usage, importation, exportation and distribution has asked experts in this field to give some advices and warnings for better detection and evaluation of medicines prescribed to clients:
1. Establish the Integrity of the source prior to need. Make some time to list approved suppliers and if you happen to cross paths with some doubtful looking brands, review your list and double check it with the name of the medicine.
2. Require that any alternative source of supply provides the following as a minimum:
A pedigree back to the previous source
Certification that it is not a diverted product
Certification that any actions by the alternative source will not alter any original manufacture warranties or guarantee
Certification that the product has been stored and handled consistent with product labeling requirements
3. If a product is being offered at an unusually cheap price and / or in unusually large quantities (particularly in a large quantity of the same batch number), treat with extra caution
4. Consider developing a list of key pharmaceutical products that will not be purchased from sources other than the manufacturer, or authorized distribution channel
5. Look for an altered expiry date. Counterfeiters commonly purchase ‘short-dated’ products and then alter the labels
6. Compare the physical characteristics of the product. Look at color, tablet or capsule markings, shape and thickness of the medicine. You can also weigh the product to see if there are wide variations
7. Notwithstanding the obvious differences in the packaging of legitimate parallel imported products, look for signs of a removed or switched product label. One common practice by counterfeiters is to remove the original label and replace it with a counterfeit label. To do this, they use lighter fluid, acetone or some other solvent which may leave a tacky residue on the container. Also, the label may be faded or discolored along the edges due to the solvent
8. Listen to patients. Counterfeit medicines around the world are often first detected by patients