Encourage more voluntary cooperation from companies along the Internet chain, such as credit card companies, domain registrars, Internet service providers, and couriers. Construct Internet search algorithms so that legitimate online pharmacies appear first. Penalties for counterfeiting should be increased. Given the difficulties and low probability of detection, penalties would have to be substantial to deter the practice.
A year sentence and a life sentence for anyone selling drugs that lead to death is appropriate. More information concerning the hazards of purchasing from Internet pharmacies should be provided so that consumers can make more informed choices.
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Tracking of drugs is already being enhanced. Additional technological steps, including the possible insertion of radio chips, should also be considered as a way of tightening the supply chain.
Making A Killing: The Deadly Implications Of The Counterfeit Drug Trade
The recently enacted drug security law is an important step in the right direction. Physicians should purchase drugs from only authorized distributors, which would reduce the ability of counterfeits to enter the market. Greater international cooperation to confront counterfeiting in countries like China should also be considered. Internet-access companies should be encouraged to make their algorithms list the approved online pharmacies first.
These would be pharmacies that meet the standards of recognized industry organizations or licensing authorities. More voluntary cooperation from companies along the Internet chain, such as credit card companies, domain registrars, Internet service providers, and couriers would make counterfeiting less profitable. Consumers should be encouraged to know where the online pharmacy is actually located, and the actual source of their drug supply.
In addition to scrutinizing the location of an online pharmacy, consumers should also be leery of any company that will distribute prescription drugs without a prescription. Consumers should also be informed about the extent of counterfeit drugs and the harm they cause. Finally, consumers should be encouraged not to buy prescription drugs without a valid prescription.
When it comes to buying drugs from online pharmacies, consumers should heed the old Latin phrase, caveat emptor —let the buyer beware. Solving the counterfeit drugs problem is important to ensure that patients do not lose faith in the benefits of pharmaceuticals and become nonadherent with their treatments. The expansion of the Internet, and the difficulty in controlling drug suppliers from the Internet, have greatly increased consumer purchases of counterfeit drugs.
Controlling the availability of counterfeit drugs is not easy, but it is necessary, given the tremendous public health issues concerning counterfeit drugs, which can harm or kill people. Cooperation is necessary among all the stakeholders involved. Health plans pay pharmacies for prescription drugs through pharmacy claims via a pharmacy benefit manager, and they pay physicians and other providers for drugs in the medical benefit through a variety of medical claims systems.
In either case, the claim requires that a code that identifies a particular drug be submitted to the plan. The problem is, however, that the code would be the same for a legitimate or a counterfeit agent. The burden of determining whether a drug is counterfeit lies with the ultimate dispenser of the drug to a patient.
Health plans credential physicians before adding them to their networks, and they work with pharmacy benefit managers to ensure that the pharmacy network is of the highest quality, by denying access to or removing from the network pharmacies that have demonstrated fraudulent or unethical behavior in the dispensing of pharmaceuticals.
A bigger issue for health plans is the potential negative effects from patients obtaining and using counterfeit medications without getting the clinical benefit of the drugs.
The risks for disease progression, side effects, or the need to change the treatment approach because of a poor response all present issues for the health plan, and can lead to poor patient outcomes and increased costs. PATIENTS: An educational approach would be an effective way for health plans to communicate to patients regarding the risks of counterfeit medications. Patients need to be educated on the potential risks of using Internet pharmacies to obtain prescription drugs. Health plans usually have a preferred mail order pharmacy in their network, and ordering prescriptions on the Internet is generally allowed for that particular pharmacy.
PROVIDERS: When patients are concerned about the out-of-pocket costs of pharmaceuticals, providers and health plans need to be aware of the risk associated with the use of a secondary market to obtain their medications in an effort to save money. Providers can make patients aware of patient assistance programs or copay coupons that may defer some of the costs of prescription drugs. A majority of patients in a health plan have drug coverage, and physicians have many drugs to choose from with reasonable out-of-pocket costs for their patients. Physicians need to be aware of patients who do not have drug coverage and who may be looking for lower-cost pharmacy options.
Physicians and pharmacists need to apply common sense and sound business practices when purchasing medications and acknowledge that any discounts will usually come directly from the drug manufacturers and not from a secondary wholesaler, unless there is something potentially wrong with the medication. At the end of the day, all healthcare providers need to help educate patients on the dangers of ordering medications over the Internet, and especially ordering drugs without a valid prescription.
In particular, if drugs are in short supply, the potential for counterfeit drugs increases, and all purchasers and policymakers need to be aware of the risk of fraud when drug supply is a problem. Blackstone and colleagues are absolutely correct in their warning to patients regarding the purchase of drugs online: caveat emptor —let the buyer beware. Erwin A. Joseph P. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Am Health Drug Benefits. Blackstone , PhD, Joseph P.
Fuhr, Jr. Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract Background Counterfeit drugs comprise an increasing percentage of the US drug market and even a larger percentage in less developed countries. Objective To review the health and economic consequences of counterfeit drugs on the US public and on the healthcare system as a whole. Discussion The issue of counterfeit drugs has been growing in importance in the United States, with the supply of these counterfeit drugs coming from all over the world. Conclusion Counterfeit drugs pose a public health hazard, waste consumer income, and reduce the incentive to engage in research and development and innovation.
Counterfeit Medicines Counterfeit medication is a problem in the United States, and even more so worldwide.
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Consumer Issues: Harmful Effects Patients can experience a variety of problems from the use of counterfeit drugs. Internet Pharmacies Consumers or patients in the United States are largely unaware of the dangers of purchasing counterfeit drugs from Internet pharmacies. Economic Benefits of Intellectual Property Innovation is important to economic growth and US competitiveness in the global marketplace. Implications Call for Action to Policymakers The prevalence of counterfeit drugs is increasing, especially with the expansion of the Internet.
Increase public awareness, especially concerning Internet pharmacies Improve management of supply chain Apply stiffer fines and jail sentences for convicted sellers of counterfeit drugs Increase due diligence by physicians when purchasing drugs and stiffer penalties for those who knowingly provide counterfeit drugs to their patients Improve controls of secondary drug markets Improve cooperation with foreign governments regarding counterfeiting drugs Improve quality control by drug manufacturers to avoid drug shortages Encourage more voluntary cooperation from companies along the Internet chain, such as credit card companies, domain registrars, Internet service providers, and couriers Improve use of technology to track and trace counterfeiting drugs Sell drug supplies only to licensed manufacturers Construct Internet search algorithms so that legitimate online pharmacies appear first.
Open in a separate window. Consumer Education Needed Consumers should be encouraged to know where the online pharmacy is actually located, and the actual source of their drug supply.
Making A Killing: The Deadly Implications Of The Counterfeit Drug Trade 2008
Conclusion Solving the counterfeit drugs problem is important to ensure that patients do not lose faith in the benefits of pharmaceuticals and become nonadherent with their treatments. Contributor Information Erwin A. References 1. US Department of Homeland Security. Intellectual property rights: fiscal year seizure statistics.
CBP publication — Intellectual property spotlight. Sexual medicine: online risks to health—the problem of counterfeit drugs. Nat Rev Urol.
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Bennett CL. Government agencies and pharmaceutical industry must take action to thwart sales of counterfeit drug products. September 1, Palmer E.