What Should We Know About Counterfeit Medicines?


Counterfeit medicines are a major global public health issue, affecting millions of people and putting their lives at risk. These falsified products can be ineffective, contain dangerous ingredients, or lack the necessary active substances for treatment. In this article, we will discuss what counterfeit medicines are, how to identify them, and what measures we can take to protect ourselves.

What Are Counterfeit Medicines?

Counterfeit medicines are products that are intentionally and fraudulently mislabeled concerning their identity and/or source. They can include:

Medicines with incorrect or wrong active ingredients.
Medicines with incorrect concentrations of active ingredients.
Medicines with fake packaging.
Medicines containing dangerous contaminants.
Medicines without active ingredients.
How to Identify Counterfeit Medicines?
Identifying counterfeit medicines can be challenging, but there are a few signs that can help:

Packaging: Check if the packaging is of inferior quality or different from the usual one. Look for spelling mistakes or unclear printing on labels.
Price: If the price of a medicine is considerably lower than usual, it could be a sign that it is counterfeit.
Shape and Taste: If the medicine has a different shape or taste than what you know it should have, be cautious.
Sources of Purchase: Avoid buying medicines from unauthorized sources, such as unreliable online markets or unknown suppliers.

Risks Associated with Counterfeit Medicines

Consuming counterfeit medicines can have serious consequences:

Inefficiency of Treatment:

The lack of correct active ingredients can mean that the disease is not properly treated.
Adverse Effects: Incorrect ingredients or contaminants can cause severe adverse reactions.
Drug Resistance: Using counterfeit antibiotics can contribute to the development of bacterial resistance.
Financial Loss: Spending money on ineffective or dangerous products.
How Can We Protect Ourselves?
To protect ourselves from counterfeit medicines, we can take the following measures:

Buy from Trusted Sources: Purchase medicines only from authorized pharmacies and follow medical prescriptions.
Check Packaging: Pay attention to packaging details and compare them with original products.
Consult Your Doctor or Pharmacist: If in doubt, discuss with a healthcare professional.
Report Suspicions: If you suspect you have purchased a counterfeit medicine, report it immediately to the relevant authorities.
Health Risks from Taking Counterfeit Pills
Consuming counterfeit medicines can have serious and varied consequences on health. These risks depend on the type of counterfeit medicine, the ingredients it contains or omits, and the condition for which the medicine is used. Below are detailed some of the main conditions and risks associated with taking counterfeit pills:

Inefficiency of Treatment:

Lack of Treatment for Existing Conditions: Chronic diseases such as diabetes or hypertension require regular medication for control. Using counterfeit medicines can worsen these conditions.
Failure to Treat Infections: In the case of counterfeit antibiotics, bacterial infections will not be treated properly, which can lead to severe complications.
Severe Adverse Effects:

Severe Allergic Reactions: Unknown ingredients can cause unexpected allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, which can be fatal.
Poisoning: Toxic contaminants in counterfeit medicines can cause acute poisoning, affecting vital organs like the liver or kidneys.
Drug Resistance:

Antibiotic Resistance: Using counterfeit or incomplete antibiotics can lead to the development of bacterial resistance, making future bacterial infections much more difficult to treat.
Antiviral Resistance: In the case of viral infections, such as HIV, using counterfeit medicines can lead to the development of viral strains resistant to standard treatments.
Cardiovascular Conditions:

Uncontrolled Hypertension: Counterfeit medicines for hypertension can be ineffective, leaving blood pressure uncontrolled and increasing the risk of stroke and heart attack.
Heart Failure: Patients with heart failure using counterfeit medicines can experience worsening symptoms and severe complications.
Mental Health Issues:

Untreated Depression and Anxiety: Using counterfeit medicines for depression or anxiety can lead to a lack of symptom relief, worsening the patient’s condition.
Psychoses and Other Disorders: In the case of counterfeit antipsychotic medicines, patients can experience uncontrolled psychotic episodes, which can be dangerous for themselves and others.
Cancer and Other Serious Diseases:

Ineffectiveness of Oncological Treatment: Counterfeit cancer medicines may not contain the necessary substances to combat cancer cells, allowing the disease to progress.
Toxicity: Unknown substances or contaminants in counterfeit medicines can cause severe toxicity, negatively impacting the health of patients.
Counterfeit medicines represent a major risk to public health, with potential devastating effects on individual health. Identifying and avoiding these dangerous products are essential to protecting our health. Through information, vigilance, and purchasing medicines only from trusted sources, we can help reduce the risks associated with counterfeit medicines and protect our health and that of our loved ones.

Counterfeit medicines are a real danger to public health. Through education and attention to detail, we can reduce the risk of exposure to these dangerous products. It is essential to buy medicines only from trusted sources and be vigilant for signs of falsification. By protecting ourselves and reporting suspicious medicines, we contribute to the fight against this dangerous phenomenon.

Source: WHO

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