With counterfeit drugs flooding the market, healthcare providers are responsible for ensuring that their patients take the right medicine. However, this obligation is often overwhelming as pharmacies cannot always keep track of the drugs prescribed to their patients.
The federal government has imposed laws to hold healthcare providers responsible for any counterfeit drugs sold. Here are a few facts about counterfeit medications you should know, whether you are a healthcare provider or a consumer.
How to Identify Counterfeit Drugs
So how do you identify counterfeit drugs in the market? Well, the FDA has provided several identifiers for counterfeits.
Drugs with any of the following conditions can be listed as counterfeit:
- Are unapproved by the FDA
- Have harmful ingredients or incorrect amounts of an ingredient
- Are fake, ineffective, or contaminated
That said, it is also important to note that suppliers and distributors can tamper with various drugs, making them counterfeit. They can do this by rebranding or changing their volumes. This makes drugs ineffective as their original composition has been compromised.
Interfering with the packaging and composition of drugs can be dangerous, especially when unsuspecting medical practitioners use them for the first time. This was the case when counterfeit Botox was being supplied in the US. The packaging resembled the original packaging, so doctors who were not frequently using the drug could not tell the difference.
Healthcare professionals are responsible for stopping drug counterfeiting since they frequently interact with the drugs and are required to notice any differences. They also need to know the origin of their medications and their suppliers.
Consequences of Selling Counterfeit Drugs
The repercussions of non-compliance with federal law are pretty severe. Supplying or distributing counterfeit drugs could result in fines, jail time, civil penalties, and repayment of ill-acquired profits.
Moreover, healthcare providers who knowingly prescribe counterfeit drugs could suffer from criminal charges. Unfortunately, there is no expectation for distributors who unknowingly supply falsified drugs. However, they can still suffer any of the mentioned consequences.
The federal statutes could take legal action against you if you billed Medicare or Medicaid for counterfeit drugs. This could result in compensatory payments up to three times of the billed amount.
How to Avoid Counterfeit Drugs
As mentioned before, falsified drugs could contain wrong doses and ingredients, which could be toxic to patients. This could lead to liability claims and even criminal charges.
Here are a few precautions to take whenever you are handling drugs:
- Always check the packaging. Even though the packaging may be similar to the original drug, check for warning signs like different labels, foreign language labels, and different doses.
- Avoid purchasing foreign drugs, especially if they have not been approved.
- Always confirm the drug’s approval in the FDA’s Orange Book.
- Avoid purchasing suspiciously inexpensive drugs.
- Always confirm the source of your drugs. This includes the manufacturer and country of origin.
- Notify the relevant authorities of any counterfeit drugs acquired.
- Constantly confirm the registration of drug distributors and suppliers. Keep all their records safe.
- Avoid selling any drugs suspected to be counterfeit. Instead, set them aside until their authenticity is determined.
- Always be prepared for Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) checkups.
Counterfeit drugs can cause fatal effects on patients who take them. Sadly, counterfeiters have upped their game and are now producing drugs that closely resemble the original ones, which has made flagging fake drugs quite tricky.
Nevertheless, suppliers and distributors can notice these differences by paying more attention to the drugs they receive. If you have been accused of counterfeiting, ensure you hire a Criminal Defence Lawyer to help with the investigations.