Patients can take measures to protect themselves against counterfeit medications, says Connie Jung from the Office of Drug Security, Integrity and Recall of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Speaking at the 2011 Partnership for Safe Medicines Interchange, she said that patients first of all need to be aware of the risk of receiving counterfeit medications and what the potential problems associated with counterfeits.

Counterfeit, stolen, diverted or substandard medicines are equally a risk to the public says Ms. Jung.

She points out that in addition to healthcare providers receiving counterfeit medications from shady foreign sources, more likely patients will purchase counterfeits themselves on the internet.

When patients chose to purchase medications from the internet, she says, they should first make sure to use a U.S. licensed pharmacy. Then they must inspect products and packaging for difference and damage. She also recommends that patients avoid purchasing medication through email spam or advertisements that say “FDA approved drugs for cheaper” or “No prescription needed.” And she says in all case, a patient should talk to their pharmacist immediately if a medication causes unusual reactions.

For more information on how to protect yourself from counterfeit medication, see the Partnership for Safe Medicine’s hand outs, “SAFEDRUG” and “Save Money Safely on Your Prescriptions from Online Pharmacies.”

By S. Imber