The Perils of Counterfeited Medicines and Drugs

counterfeited drug

Why let nonchalance cost you life!!!

The side-effects and consequences of counterfeited drugs are endless and just can’t be ignored because they come with a very high price which is the customer’s life. There is a dire need to stop medicine counterfeiting at all costs. It is not just the government who can take action against the counterfeiters but we as users should take every precautionary method to not use them.

According to the definition given by World Health Organisation, a counterfeit medicine is one which is deliberately and fraudulently mislabeled with respect to identity and /or source. Counterfeiting can be applied to both branded and generic products and counterfeit medicines may include products:

• With correct ingredients but fake packaging
• With the wrong ingredients
• Without active ingredients
• With insufficient active ingredients

The new definition that is doing the rounds is that when there is false representation in relation to its identity, history or source, it is a counterfeited drug. This applies to the product, its container, packaging or other labelling information. This covers both branded & generic may include with correct ingredient/component, without active ingredient /component, with the incorrect amount of active ingredient /component or with fake packing. [Source: The Economic Times, 17 Oct, 2008].

With its blooming economy and the country’s ability to have a strong footprint on the pharmaceutical industry, India just cannot risk its image and development with the use of counterfeited drugs. It was seen that 1 out of 5 drugs in India is counterfeited which accounts for 14% annual loss.
Many fake products are being manufactured in China with ‘Made in India’ label are flooded in the market bringing disgrace to the Indian domestic industry and causing losses to the tune of $5 billion.

The reason of Pharmaceutical sector being so vulnerable to counterfeiting is they are taken in bulk by the wholesalers or dealers and a fake can be relatively cheaper. Many countries, especially in the developing world lack adequate regulation and enforcement. The risk of prosecution and penalties for counterfeiting are inadequate even in the industrialised countries. And lastly, there is not much awareness amongst the consumers; they have little or no-knowledge about the product.

It has been observed that the developing countries are the worst affected because regulatory structure is weaker and useful generics can be easily counterfeited.
No risk is greater than the risk of life and this is exactly put at stake when we consume counterfeited drug or medicine. The counterfeited medicines fail to work or are inefficient, resulting in shaken or no confidence of people on medications and treatments and going for more expensive treatments in India and abroad. On a global scale, these illegal funds generated, further gives rise to high-quantity manufacture of illegal drugs and even terrorism.

The risks involved with the use of counterfeit drugs are beyond words and just cannot be scaled down to only monetary losses. The brands lose their hard-earned reputation, mistrust of authorities, increased corruption, and loss of revenues. The main cost that these counterfeits come at is the cost of the patient and nothing can be more expensive than that.

The consumers should make sure that the product/medicine they are buying is 100% authenticated and genuine and only then use it.
One should never forget, ‘Prevention is better than cure’.