Did You Ever Wonder Why People Buy Counterfeit Drugs?

Kubic (sm)

Thomas T. Kubic

Last month, the Wall Street Journal featured an article that discussed the efforts currently underway to deter people from buying counterfeit products.  It pointed out that many anti-counterfeiting messages fail to address the underlying motivation which leads people to buy counterfeit products.

The authors surveyed people in the United States, Brazil, China, India, and Russia. They asked consumers to consider and rank five factors that may influence their decision to buy counterfeit drugs or a pirated movie – quality, cost, sentiment, ethics and ease of purchase.

Not surprisingly, the researchers received very different responses from the survey participants as to “why they would buy a fake DVD” versus “why they would buy a counterfeit drug.”  But overall, the authors found consumers would buy a fake because:

  • they thought it was just as good as a legitimate product;
  • they could not afford the genuine product;
  • they do not like the big businesses that make the authentic products;
  • they do not think it is illegal or immoral to do so; and/or,
  • the products were easy to obtain.

Clearly, we all need to do more to help patients understand that counterfeit medicines are not the same as genuine medicines.  That is why, in our day-to-day activities, the Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) continually stresses that counterfeit medicines from around the globe threaten the safety of our drug supply.  Consumers and policymakers should know that the public health is at risk as 1) counterfeit medicines are never safe; 2) counterfeit medicines are here; and 3) there are many assistance programs to help obtain genuine medicines.

PSM offers a number of free resources to help consumers understand the real health and safety issues that accompany every counterfeit drug.  To learn more about why counterfeit drugs are unsafe at any cost, visit www.SafeMedicines.org.