PSM2012 – Scott Williams, Men’s Health Network: Patient perspective on counterfeit medications

The opening speaker for the 2012 Interchange was Scott T. Williams, Vice President of Men’s Health Network.  Men’s
Health Network (MHN) is a national DC based non-profit organization, founded in
1992, whose mission is to reach men and their families where they live, work,
play, and pray with health prevention messages and tools, screening programs,
educational materials.

Williams spoke about the onslaught of email marketing to men toting the online purchase of prescription erectile dysfunction medication, and warned the audience that authenticity and safety of medicine purchased online is suspect.  Said Williams, “40,000 websites peddle alleged
prescription drugs, but studies have shown that up to 95% of these websites are
illegitimate and unsafe.”

Citing statistics including the FDA’s prosecution of 400 individuals for counterfeit drug crimes in the past five years, and the incidents of Americans suffering death and stroke due to exposure to counterfeit medicines, Williams warned that men, in particular, must be extra-vigiliant because they are so directly targeted by counterfeit drug sellers, and because they are as a group less likely to seek preventitive care, live shorter lives and have more than a double likelihood to develop cancer than their counterparts.

Williams said that MHN’s goal was three-fold:

• Help patients, caregivers, and families understand the dangers of counterfeit and unsafe medicines

• Empower patients to do some research, get a prescription from their healthcare
providers and only buy from a Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site (VIPPS)

• Rally together as advocates and partners to combat this global public health threat.

Referencing an infographic co-produced by MHN and PSM, for Men’s Health Week, Williams said that their method of achieving their goals is by actively engaging grassroots volunteers and managing resources to promote patient safety.

By S. Imber