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They’re Not Going to Take It

Recognizing the growing threat of the availability of counterfeit drugs worldwide, the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Products Agency (MHRA) – Britain’s version of the FDA – last week published its first Anti-Counterfeiting Strategy. The strategy sets out the MHRA’s approach to combating this threat for the next three years, including the launch of a new 24-hour hotline for reporting suspected counterfeit medicines and devices.

Recognizing the growing threat of the availability of counterfeit drugs worldwide, the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Products Agency (MHRA) – Britain’s version of the FDA – last week published its first Anti-Counterfeiting Strategy. The strategy sets out the MHRA’s approach to combating this threat for the next three years, including the launch of a new 24-hour hotline for reporting suspected counterfeit medicines and devices.

Overall, the MHRA’s strategy sets out to tackle four major problems of counterfeiting in the UK:

  • the availability of counterfeit medicines (and medical devices) there;
  • the fact that the UK is an attractive market for counterfeiters because of the
    high prices of drugs, a large market, and very complex supply chain;
  • the need to raise awareness of the counterfeit drug threat to the public and stakeholders; and,
  • the problem of counterfeiters using the UK as a transit point and distribution hub.

So it’s clear that the UK isn’t going to tolerate counterfeiters, typically from Asia, using the UK as “cover” for sending fake drugs ordered online from the U.S. Part of its strategy is looking to increase criminal prosecutions in these cases.

I applaud the MHRA for drawing the line in the sand and effectively telling counterfeiters “we’re not going to take it”. I congratulate the British public for having a drug regulatory authority that is actively addressing this important patient safety issue.

Unfortunately, the problems with counterfeiting aren’t confined to the UK. Many of the problems noted by the MHRA are common in the U.S. as well.

As I’ve noted before, patients are the last barrier to harm. Here in the U.S., the FDA has had a counterfeit-watch program for a couple of years now, whereby consumers are encouraged to report suspicions of counterfeit drugs. To do so, consumers can call MedWatch at 1-800-322-1088. Let the FDA know if you suspect fakes! The worst you can be is wrong; the best you can do is save lives.

Other ways that you can protect yourself include tools you can find on this website:

  • Download the SAFE DRUG checklist to learn how to avoid, deter, and report suspected counterfeit drugs.
  • Sign up for the SAFEMEDS EMAIL ALERT SYSTEM, which broadcasts FDA Counterfeit Alert Network notices as soon as they come out.
  • If you do buy drugs online, only use Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (click here), that are accredited by The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s (NABP) as legitimate pharmacies.

Remember protect yourself and your family! You are the last barrier to harm!

 

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