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.

Chambliss W. G, Carroll W. A, Kennedy D, Shepherd M*, et al. Role of the Pharmacist in Preventing Distribution of Counterfeit Medications. In: J Am Pharm Assoc. 2012;52(2):195-199.