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The Dangers of Counterfeit Medicine

counterfeit medicine

Counterfeit medicine is posing an increasing risk to the publics’ health as the amount being sold online and through other sources grows internationally, according to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

In an effort to raise public awareness of fake medicine and its dangers, the RPSGB and MHRA have teamed up to produce new patient guidance, which will be issued to all pharmacies in Great Britain over the next two months.

Developed in conjunction with patient groups to ensure it is clear and easy to read, pharmacies will be asked to distribute the guidance to patients in their prescription bags.

The new double-sided postcard-sized leaflet offers practical advice to patients about what counterfeit medicine means, how to minimise purchasing fakes and what to do if they suspect they have been sold or supplied counterfeits. One side of the postcard explains the safest way to purchase medicines and the other outlines The dangers of faking it’.

The RPSGB’s Head of Practice, Heidi Wright, says:

“Counterfeit medicine does not work and can make you seriously ill.

“It’s important that people are aware that they should always get their medicine from a reputable source such as a pharmacist or a registered online pharmacy site which has the RPSGB’s Internet Pharmacy Logo* – and I hope these postcards will help to achieve that.”

The MHRA is also looking at ways to target those that use the internet to buy counterfeit medicine.

Mick Deats, Group Manager of Enforcement at the MHRA said,

“The MHRA will not hesitate to take action against those who undermine public health. There is considerable risk to the public from obtaining medicines through unregulated websites.”

The new patient postcards complement updated guidance for pharmacists and dispensing doctors which was produced in February in collaboration with the RPSGB, MHRA and the Dispensing Doctor’s Association (DDA).

Counterfeit medicines: Guidance for pharmacists explains the background to counterfeit medicine production and highlights how organised criminal gangs have become involved in the production of illegal medicines, supplying them through the internet, often to unwitting patients. It offers pharmacists invaluable practical advice on the correct steps to take when they encounter suspected counterfeit medicines. These steps include reporting illegal websites to the MHRA to ensure immediate patient safety. It is available to download from the RPSGB website www.rpsab.ora/pdfs/counterfeitmedsauid.pdf.

For further information on counterfeit medicine visit the MHRA’s website at

image of the internet pharmacy logo

*The Internet Pharmacy Logo was launched by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain in January 2008, to help the public identify if a website is being operated by a bona fide pharmacy in Britain.

More information is available at

Press release from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain

24 March 2009