When is enough, enough?

The latest recall of yet another Chinese-made toy keeps the dangers of counterfeits front and center for parents, consumer watch groups and legislators. This time, 4.2 million toys were pulled from shelves in U.S. stores and Internet sites following a link made between the toy and 2 children who had fallen seriously ill after ingesting it.

The immediate response to protect our children's safety is impressive and necessary. With each incident, we become more vigilant about the risks of imported toys, particularly from China in recent times. Unfortunately, it's impossible to know which toys pose a threat until tragedy occurs.

This additional example of problems with imported products-toys to toothpaste-seems to get more attention than the problem of counterfeit drugs from suspect sources such as China, the Internet, and over-the-border. Yet dangerous and tragic results from counterfeit drugs we swallow and inject have occurred. We need much more of a public uproar to ensure that we and our families are protected from this plague.

This isn't about someone else. It's about our neighbors, friends, and loved ones. And because it's big business with virtually no risk or oversight-as we heard at Congressional hearings last week-the industry is only getting larger. The U.S.-based Center for Medicines in the Public Interest estimates counterfeit drug sales will increase to $75 billion by 2010, a more than 90 per cent increase from 2005.

How many more counterfeit drug incidents will it take to get the same kind of response from authorities that we've seen with counterfeit toys?

No matter what, consumers can and do need to take measures to protect themselves and their families. We are always the last barrier to harm.

Be informed. One way is to click here to sign up for the SafeMeds email alerts. This system will provide you with all government counterfeit drug warnings right in your inbox (and no prescription drug spam!).

Until next time, be safe.