Pacific Northwest Dealing with Counterfeit Drugs

Counterfeit drugs may be on the rise in the Pacific Northwest, posing a serious health risk to those who depend on prescription medications.

Some pharmaceutical industry experts say that the production of counterfeit drugs is a growing rapidly and America’s northwest region is one of the main places where this is occurring, reports KIRO radio.

Pfizer brought in Patrick Ford, a former FBI agent who spent 14 years dealing with white-collar crimes and internet scams, to be its chief counterfeit investigator.

The scope of the counterfeit drug problem is growing, says Ford.

“Law enforcement worldwide seized about 11.1 million doses last year,” he told the news source. “Everything from heart medication to blood pressure; it’s a growing problem.”

One of the main places that peddles counterfeit drugs are online pharmacies, some of which are illegal.

According to the Washington State Department of Health, the vast majority of online pharmacies have not received proper licensing from the state.

Often times these phony pharmacies will set up a local contact in order to dupe people into buying their products, reports the news source.

“[A consumer] will see an advertisement on the computer that has a Washington address or phone number on it. They’ll call that number and be directed somewhere else,” Grant Chester, the Washington State Department of Health’s chief pharmacy investigator, said to the news provider.

In order to ensure they are not receiving counterfeit drugs, Americans should purchase prescription medication offline from a licensed U.S. pharmacy, or if they purchase them online from a pharmacy that has been certified by the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites, or VIPPS, program.

Seattle has become a prime entry point into America for counterfeit drugs because of its proximity to Canada, through which fake medication is often routed, according to the news source.

Don Bambenek, a private investigator who was once a U.S. customs agent, is familiar with how drug counterfeiters use the Pacific Northwest area.

“There were shipments we were capturing coming through the airport and seaport terminals,” he told the news source.