Counterfeit Drug Search Proposed

Background: Counterfeit drug products may closely resemble legitimate drugs but they may contain only inactive ingredients, incorrect ingredients, improper dosages, sub-potent or super-potent ingredients, or be contaminated.

The Story: The FDA has announced a comprehensive plan to combat counterfeit drugs in the US. The plan sounds good. It involves tracking drugs from manufacturers to patients, increasing criminal penalties, doing background checks on all involved businesses, effective reporting of incidents and education of consumers and health professionals as to how counterfeit drugs can be identified.

Comments: The big question is, "Will this plan work?" Unfortunately, it is the consumer standing at the end of the drug production line of who may ultimately suffer the most from a counterfeit drug. The new FDA report recommends, "If a pharmacist or consumer notices an unexplained change in size, shape, color, or taste of their dosage form, or notices that the coating is chipped or tablets are cracked, or that the drug is not working like it usually does, they may consider that to be a problem with their product. These are also characteristics that could occur if the product was a counterfeit drug." In these days when generic drug substitutions are common, most consumers don't have a clue as to what a particular drug should look like. And most consumers don't have access to a PDR (Physician's Desk Reference, a 3,500 or so-page book) where they can look up information about a specific drug.

Source: COMBATING COUNTERFEIT DRUGS: A Report of the Food and Drug Administration

Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D.
Frederick Hecht, M.D.
Medical Editors, MedicineNet.com

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Last Editorial Review: 2/19/2004




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