Buyer Beware: Counterfeit Medications are a Worldwide Problem
If you’re currently taking prescription medication, chances are you rarely, if ever consider that the medication you’re taking could be a fake version of the real thing. However, the Center for Disease Control caution that counterfeit versions of medications are a public health threat around the world. Understandably, the full impact of the issue is a bit hard to measure, but experts say that somewhere between 10 to 30 percent of medicines obtained from developing countries might be a counterfeit version. Fortunately, if you live in America, Canada, the European Union or another developed country, your risk is much lower. Statistics from CDC state that less than one percent of the medicines sold in these locales are fakes.
Who Are the Possible Victims?
Today, the cost of healthcare is extremely high, even for those who are lucky enough to have insurance. As a result, medical tourism is gaining popularity. This practice involves a person who needs treatment deciding to go outside of their home country for the primary reason that a procedure will be less expensive somewhere else.
Similarly, people often pick up medications during their travels. Although it is probably not as common for a person to plan to go a long distance merely to get a better price on their meds, it’s certainly understandable why someone might do research to find out what types of prescription drugs they could get for a discounted price if they’re already traveling to a particular country. Some people find themselves in need of so-called “lifestyle drugs,” too.These are types that don’t focus on improving someone’s health in a potentially life-saving way, but rather target issues such as thinning hair, Erectile Dysfunction and obesity. If you’re looking to lose a few pounds, or please your partner in the bedroom, these are both objectives that might make you feel uncomfortable when it comes to speaking with your doctor, so the opportunity to travel outside your home country to get the drugs instead might be appealing.
Things to Look For
Spotting a counterfeit drug isn’t easy, even for the experts. When fake drugs are suspected, professionals analyze the contents in a laboratory setting. As a consumer, you won’t have that luxury, but there are still a few things that could raise a red flag. Firstly, inspect the texture of the drugs before consuming them. If a pill seems flaky, or breaks apart very easily, that’s a reason for concern. If you’ve been taking a certain prescription drug already, you have an advantage. Pay attention to how the version you’ve purchased looks, tastes and smells. Finally, examine the packaging and see if it contains any misspelled words, or does not include safety seals for the pills themselves.
Awareness is Key
Some people who buy drugs in foreign countries aren’t necessarily doing so to save money. Instead, they might simply be traveling in a destination and discovered that they’ve forgotten to pack the necessary amount of medication. Regardless of your own situation, it’s important to be informed and understand the level of risk for counterfeit drugs in any country that you visit. Sometimes, counterfeit versions simply don’t have the same amount of potency as a legitimate medicine. In other cases, they may be laced with poisonous ingredients. By being mindful of potential hazards and their consequences, you can be a healthier and smarter consumer.