Counterfeit Drugs: A Dangerous Reality

The A&M TeamPersonal Injury, Drug Crimes, Dangerous Drugs

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The counterfeit prescription drug industry makes around $75 billion a year globally. The United States, despite having tight control over manufacturing and distribution of pharmaceuticals, has experienced an increasing number of cases involving distribution and sale of fake drugs in recent years. 40% of the drugs consumed in the US are imported and 80% of the ingredients used in American drugs are imported. Due to the global nature of drug manufacturing and pharmaceutical trading, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cannot guarantee the quality of drugs manufactured overseas.

The most popular fake prescription drugs include brands like Avastin, Xanax, Viagra, Valium, Heparin and Lipitor. Fake Heparin killed more than 140 people in the US between 2007 and 2008. Most counterfeit drugs are manufactured in developing countries (such as India and China) and enter the US through a mix of illegal and legal supply routes. Online pharmacies (offering attractive low prices) are another source of counterfeit drugs.

What do counterfeit drugs contain?

It is highly difficult for you to distinguish a knockoff from the genuine product as they both have a strikingly similar appearance. However, scientists and investigators working for pharma companies such as Pfizer say that some of the Viagra counterfeits contain gypsum and significantly low amounts of the active ingredient. Other than lower quantity of the active ingredient, fake medicines might contain a much cheaper version of the active ingredient or none at all. In the Heparin case, Chinese suppliers replaced the main ingredient with a cheaper option which contained a dangerous substance that proved fatal for many. Furthermore, some knockoffs have been found to contain toxic, harmful ingredients such as metals and rat poison. Fake drugs can lead to worsening of your illness (due to ineffective medicine), increased resistance to treatment or even death.

Buying prescription drugs online

Unregulated online pharmacies are one of the most common sources of fake drugs. They sell prescription drugs at alarmingly low prices and do not require a valid prescription for purchase. Many such pharmacies will advertise their location to be in developed countries such as Canada and provide a fake mailing address (or no address at all) in their contact details. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) has developed the VIPPS accreditation program that helps distinguish the authentic, regulated online pharmacies from the unregulated ones; currently there are only 46 accredited online drug providers.  Moreover, of the 11000+ online pharmacies reviewed by the NABP only 4% were in compliance with patient safety and pharmacy practice criteria.

Federal law regulates all prescription drugs manufactured, bought, sold, imported and exported in the US. Making, possessing, delivering or selling of counterfeit drugs is a crime in most states including Oklahoma. Fake drugs are increasingly affecting hundreds of Americans as more consumers buy substandard drugs from unregulated pharmacies and as counterfeit drugs’ supply chains become more complex and unreachable. If you think you or a loved one has been sold a counterfeit drug and/or if you think you have been adversely affected by a drug knockoff, contact a personal injury lawyer in Oklahoma who understands pharmaceutical laws well. Personal injury attorneys at Atkins and Markoff will work with you to recover any kind of losses you have suffered due to dangerous drugs, call us today for a legal review of your case.