Everyone’s heard of counterfeit money, counterfeit designer jeans, and “knock-off” designer purses, but do you know about counterfeit prescription medications? The incidence of counterfeit medications in the United States is low, compared to developing countries, and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would like to keep it that way. The FDA warns consumers to only purchase prescription medications from state-licensed pharmacies and websites with the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) seal. All prescription drugs in the United States pass through rigorous clinical trials and review processes to make sure they are safe and effective before receiving FDA approval and becoming available to the public.
Counterfeit medications may appear like the real thing, but actually contain no active ingredient, too much of an active ingredient, or too little of an active ingredient. Counterfeit drugs may or may not look different, taste different, or make you feel different. The bottom line is that because their ingredients are unknown and unregulated, they can be dangerous to your health.
If you purchase prescription medication from another country, a suspicious website, or a source other than a state-licensed pharmacy you are at risk that it is counterfeit. If you suspect you have received a counterfeit, bring the medication to a pharmacist who can check it out. Remember, FDA-approved medications are sold at state-licensed pharmacies in the United States and websites with the VIPPS seal.