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Counterfeit medicines

Teva takes the safety of patients very seriously and is working with governments and customs authorities around the world to help control the problems caused by counterfeit medicines across the globe.

The dangers of counterfeit medicinal products

Fake medicines and other medical products can potentially be very dangerous and ineffective. Unfortunately, it’s a very extensive problem and it is often difficult to tell when a medicine is counterfeit – the packaging and even the tablets themselves may look the same as the genuine medicine. Once they’re tested in a laboratory, it will become evident that they’re fake, but sometimes that’s the only way to tell.

Counterfeit medicines are more likely to be a branded medicine rather than a generic. This is because there is potentially more profit for the counterfeiters in selling counterfeit branded medicines.

Risks of buying medicines over the internet

Buying medicines over the internet without a prescription can be very dangerous. A large number of the sites selling medicines are illegal, unauthorised, unregulated and trade in poor quality products.

If you can’t find an online supplier’s physical address, take it as a warning sign that their products could be unsafe. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that half of medicines which websites like this sell are counterfeit.1

Furthermore, if you have not been medically prescribed the medicine by a doctor, then you are risking your own health by taking these products. Even if buying medicines over the internet seems more convenient than going through your doctor or pharmacy, it’s fair to say that the potential dangers outweigh any possible benefits by far. So, in order to ensure you minimise the risk of coming into contact with counterfeit medicines don't take the risk.

Legitimate online pharmacies

Ordering medicines online and getting them delivered by mail may be legal if certain requirements are met. These requirements range from ones you must fulfill to those that must be met by the business you're ordering from. There are online pharmacies which are legitimate and these must be registered with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPS), which regulates their safety. 

Legitimate internet pharmacies can be convenient, particularly for those people with limited mobility or those who have problems accessing their pharmacy or doctor. While internet pharmacies can make delivery and repeat prescriptions more convenient, they cannot replace necessary face-to-face consultations. 

The RPS has developed a logo that will appear on the first page of registered online pharmacies. However, unscrupulous, illegal websites could still copy and display this logo so in addition to this, the RPS recommends users do the following:

  • Check the registration status of the pharmacist.
  • The pharmacy operating the website should be a genuine ‘bricks and mortar’ pharmacy, so look at its name and street address.
  • Be suspicious if you re not asked some questions about your health or the medicine before you buy it: registered pharmacies are obliged to determine whether the medicine is suitable for you through an online consultation.

1 http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/88/4/10-020410/en/ accessed 18.03.16