Objective: To provide an overview of the counterfeit medication problem and recommendations of a joint American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Academy of Pharmaceutical Research and Science and APhA Academy of Pharmacy Practice and Management taskforce.
Date sources: SciFinder and PubMed were searched from 1980 to March 2011 using the following keywords: counterfeit drug product, counterfeit medications, drug product authentication, drug product verification, and track-and-trace. Publications, presentations, and websites of organizations that research the counterfeit medication problem in the United States and other countries were reviewed. A representative from the security division of a pharmaceutical manufacturer and a representative from a supplier of anticounterfeiting technologies gave presentations to the taskforce.
Summary: The taskforce recommends that pharmacists (1) purchase medications from known, reliable sources; (2) warn patients of the dangers of purchasing medications over the Internet; (3) confirm with distributors that products were purchased from manufacturers or other reliable sources; (4) monitor counterfeit product alerts; (5) examine products for suspicious appearance; (6) work with the pharmaceutical industry, distributors, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to close gaps in the supply chain, especially for drugs in short supply; (7) use scanning technology in the pharmacy as part of a prescription verification process; (8) educate themselves, coworkers, and patients about the risks of counterfeit medications; and (9) report suspicious medications to FDA, the distributor, and the manufacturer.
Conclusion: The consequence of a patient receiving a counterfeit medication in the United States could be catastrophic, and pharmacists must play an active role in preventing such an event from occurring.