The real tragedy of fake drugs can not be measured in monetary value. These schemes impact many people who are seriously ill, sometimes on the very edge of despair when they run into these deceptive medications that generate false hope.
Rather than receiving proper medical treatment on time, a lot of this time goes wasted on false drugs and medications. Soon after the realization that these drugs simply do not have any effect, ill people may even lose their last hopes of recovery.
World Health Organization estimates that over 1 million people a year die as a consequence to counterfeit medications. In developing countries, at least 1 out of 10 pharmaceuticals are fake. Global profits are estimated to be over $200 billion each year.
These frauds are one of the extreme types. Perpetrators are scamming people when they are at their weakest with zero thought on the impact that this unethical and immoral act brings. And it could happen to you. Any of us. Is there anything we can do at all?
- The Problem With Fake Drugs
- Examples Of Drug Counterfeiting
- How To Detect Counterfeit Medications
- Preventing Fraudulent Deals
The Problem With Fake Drugs
People have different motivations to buy from unofficial suppliers. But why would you even do that? The reasons look very reasonable at first glance and could include a cheaper price, out of stock item or a novelty drug that is not yet available on the official market.
Many people underestimated how common fake drugs are and the dangers associated with them.
Counterfeit medications aren’t approved, which should automatically sound your alarm bell. Although you may get “better deals“, the ultimate problem is health and not money.
This article is not an attempt to discourage you from trying alternative medicine, rather the focus is on counterfeit medications. After all, people used to heal themselves with natural ingredients for thousands of years before we invented modern medicine.
One should never underestimate the importance of an approved medication, however. Rigid testing and clinical trials are needed to allow a new drug on the market. For good reasons. It is extremely hard to make sure the ingredients are safe to consume.
The most important thing you need to make sure is that you know what you are taking. Learn about the ingredients, it’s effects and side effects extensively!
Counterfeit Medication: The Hook
What makes a fake drug sell better than the official medication?
- Brand name medications are expensive. What’s the price to cure for a disease? In a given situation an individual might be willing to pay anything he has. What if even that is not enough though? Brand name drugs might be through the roof and even more so in particular countries. Pricing also scales with demand, so the rarer the disease, the higher is the price usually.
- Out-of-stock products. Imagine demand rises in such a way nobody projected. Perhaps an epidemic triggered people to buy a particular drug very quickly, even at an inflated price. How will you get it after they buy the last piece? You resort to alternatives and this is where it gets dangerous.
- Novelty and “magic pills”. Even though a medicine lacks credibility, fraudsters could sell new drugs to desperate buyers. Find a person who has tried everything and still hasn’t solved their problem. If you come in with an invented product, they may give it a try.
What Do They Promise?
Why do people buy from such shady companies or individual, even though it feels fishy? They present a (fake) solution to a problem that could change their life for the better. And the more desperate the situation, the more willing you are to try just about anything. Fake medications promise:
To Cure Terminal Diseases
Perhaps the doctors and regular medicine is unable to help someone. The person starts searching for a “miracle” on the internet, soon finding too-good-to-be-true products.
Naturally, scammers prefer victims to act fast without thinking. When you are in a severe condition, you could act impulsively to save time, trusting the wrong people.
People who can’t afford regular medication will look for unofficial ways to get it. Preferably at a cheap price. The larger the quantity, the better the price.
The con man may advertise those conditions and deliver a product that may have some positive effects combined with an addictive substance.
The person would keep buying, seeing some positive effects.
- Get rid of your cellulite in days, guaranteed!
- Bald? No more! Order our special cure and make an appointment with the barber next week! Yes, they grow so fast.
- Be young again, ancient potion of youth revealed!
A lot of people are victims of such claims every year. A healthy human sense and a little bit of investigating should help you to avoid wasting money or jeopardizing your health on medications with no (or even negative) effects.
A Word On Generics
Generic medicine is not to be confused as a counterfeit. Generic drugs are often significantly cheaper than the original products, and this fact alone often creates a negative stigma around the use of such drugs.
Consumers are often skeptical about the difference in cost, and many myths have been spread around and suggesting that generics are cheaper and therefore less effective than the originals.
This is simply not true. In fact, in order to be approved for sale to the public, a generic drug must meet strict standards, using the same active ingredients to chemically match the originals and achieve the same results.
Examples Of Drug Counterfeiting
Take a real medication and a counterfeit. What makes the fake version different? Suspicious dealers may have different approaches in creating the fakes.
Details matter. Some medicine is so targeted that even a 1% change in ingredients modifies the whole formula and renders it ineffective. A fake drug may have the same ingredients as the genuine version, except for the proportions.
A wrong dose may be hard to spot until you test it. Even real medication could be prescribed at the wrong dose. That’s why doctors may sometimes advise taking incremental doses.
No Active Ingredients
The pill you’ve bought does nothing at all. You won’t buy again and may want to return it, but there’s no way to contact the dealer. This does not happen too often.
Scammers don’t make big bucks from such a deception. It will be a more profitable scam if a victim becomes their “habitual client.”
It’s easier to disguise trying to cure light than severe illnesses. If your medication claims to cure a cold, a seasonal virus, make you lose weight or treat some common problem, it will do the trick as a placebo.
Different Active Ingredients
The supplier gives you a different medication under the same name or same packaging. Such a product may create a negative reaction and threaten your health.
If the scammer wants to play smart, they will sell you a pain-relief drug. It may seem like the pill works, but they only hide the problem. They may alleviate the effects, but never solve the cause, so you need to buy from them again.
Fake medication dealers can also pull a variation of the pigeon scam. Let’s say the dealer gets you real, effective medication. Effective enough to make you want to buy more. It could be a well-known medication, a nootropic, or a restricted drug.
The dealers give you the genuine pill as a sample, then sell you large quantities full of counterfeit medications.
The con man changes the package to sell a drug that no longer works.
Legal brands cannot sell expired products to you, so they get rid of them. Some scammers find a way to retrieve these expired versions and re-sell them. You can’t say these are fake, but you never know what they will do to you.
How To Detect Counterfeit Medications
Due to the many threats, you can’t afford to buy medication unprepared. Luckily governments will usually employ different detection devices. Some of them are already based on AI. Even though there is only so much we can do ourselves in this case, we still have to at least try and detect a fishy product.
Official pages will always be the go-to solution, but what if you need an alternative? Does it mean other options are fraudulent? You can minimize your risks if you take measures to verify them. If you are buying from a source that is not an official pharmacy, make sure to:
Ask About Prescribed Drugs
Even if you don’t need the prescribed drug you should ask the company if they can supply it for you. Unlicensed suppliers will not offer you medication that is only available with a prescription. If they do, they are more interested in your money than your health.
Scammers love approaching “clients” on their own. Ironically, you can never contact them when you need them.
How did you find out this brand? What’s your first impression of their business? Have you talked to real people? In-person?
It becomes a lot easier when you do your homework. Let’s say you’ve researched what makes a company legit or not. You can ask them questions, they reply, and you choose whether they are trustworthy.
You could also try their after-sales support even before you buy. If there is one thing in common with shady stores it’s that they may offer great presell service, but will offer no help once you’re a buyer.
Pretend that you bought the product already, think of and ask them such questions as you would if you already owned the product.
Especially when you plan to buy long term, compare with competitor’s offers. It will give you perspective about how much it should cost and how the product should work.
As soon as something looks different, ask for an explanation. If suppliers avoid your question, then you avoid their products.
Are there any guarantees of quick, painless and cheap recovery for illnesses that otherwise not or hardly treatable? Does the advertisement promote a medical breakthrough which was just recently discovered or held secret? Is the product available for a limited time only?
Are “testimonials” from users on the website particularly standing out? A legitimate company will be very wary of posting reviews and claims of incredible results.
A legitimate health company may of course post reviews of their clients, but they will make sure you understand that you should not expect the same results, even if such will eventually happen.
You can’t meet in person when buying online, but at least you can check their statements and any kind of certification. Depending on your country you will have different options for this.
Check their business and if they are allowed and/or certified to sell health products. Don’t trust reviews on any website as they can all be faked.
A careful visual inspection and comparison with the original product can be made with regard to the product, the packaging and its marking.
If the packaging, labelling and physical appearance of the product (shape, size, colour) appear even slightly different, this may indicate a counterfeit medicine.
If there is no original product to compare, features such as manipulated/different packaging and inconsistent colouring of the product may also indicate that it could be a counterfeit.
Preventing Fraudulent Deals
Prevention saves you a lot of time and problems. Here are three essential check-ups:
Disregard Experimental Options
You don’t want to risk your health with some “experimental drugs.” You want to solve your problem and not put your health even further in danger.
Don’t trust any emerging company you’ve never heard before. Disregard brands with no reputation or reviews, no matter what they say about their miracle products.
If you think that you have no option but to try something, then make sure that you find someone real and in person who has benefited from the so called drug. Ask them for any medical records and proof. If they are for real, they will have no problem with sharing such information.
Stick To Credible Sources
Especially when buying online. Your health problem may be severe already. Why taking more risks? Saving a few hundred dollars isn’t worth your health if you know that a credible source has a real treatment.
By credible, we refer to a community that respects the brand. You can find cases, reviews, and clear guidelines by contacting them.
Trust Your Gut
If it doesn’t feel “right,” just don’t do it. If you’ve bought online in the past, you already know how legit businesses work. The moment you find a fraudulent one, you may have a hunch that something is off, even if you can’t explain what’s wrong.
That leads us to the most basic principle for buyers. Always go to the best option, even if it’s not as cheap as you expected. The price and reputation can be enough to justify the value.
Even if you choose an alternative, compare it with a trusted product. If you’re curious, try asking a few leading companies about the offer you found. They have experience in the market, know their competitors, and could perhaps tell you more than what you will research on your own.