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The Last Line of Defense Against Counterfeit Drugs

Recently, there has been talk in our nation’s Capitol about overhauling the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) presence both in the United States and abroad. This is an important step in improving the safety of prescription medications from the global public health threat of counterfeit drugs and the untold harm they cause unsuspecting consumers. But, with limited budget and resources, will the FDA be able to pull off the task?

Liang (sm) Bryan A. Liang, MD, PhD, JD  

Recently, there has been talk in our nation's Capitol about overhauling the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) presence both in the United States and abroad.  This is an important step in improving the safety of prescription medications from the global public health threat of counterfeit drugs and the untold harm they cause unsuspecting consumers.  But, with limited budget and resources, will the FDA be able to pull off the task?

We'll have to wait and see.  With a new Congress, new White House Administration and the pending confirmation of the FDA’s new leadership, there is a real chance we'll see some positive changes at the FDA.  However, significant barriers must be addressed. Challenges for the FDA will include the ability to inspect and investigate foreign plants without notice, cooperation of not necessarily friendly foreign governments, detecting and destroying contraband medicines arriving on our shores, and the need to address illicit online pharmacies.

The Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) wants to reiterate that you, the patient, are the last barrier to harm.  In particular, illegal and dangerous "online "pharmacies" continue to remain a space for counterfeiters to peddle their tainted drugs. Internet medication purchases should only be done using the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy accredited Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS), which requires demonstrated consumer safety and privacy systems for these pharmacies.

To help arm yourself against counterfeit drugs, PSM has many informative resources, such as the Consumer Resources collection.  In addition, important strategies to stretch your medication dollar are also listed with contact information. These and other valuable materials can be found by visiting http://www.safemedicines.org.

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