by Logan

Are You Taking Fake Medications?

Have you ever picked up a medication tablet or capsule, looked at it, and wondered what in the world you were really taking. Luckily for you, the FDA governs medications very closely. Pharmacies are held to a very high standard when they are getting their medication that they in turn dispensing them to you and me, their customers.

But, as health insurance prices are climbing higher and fewer employers are offering insurance, people are looking at different avenues to get their prescription medications.

I have been approached by several people about my opinion of getting medications through the internet. Of course, this is often without a prescription.

Their argument is that they have been on the medication for years. Why do they need to see a Doctor, just to be written for another prescription that they have already been taking.

On one hand, I understand their dilemma. Doctor visits are expensive, especially if you don’t have health insurance.  But, they need to be followed and evaluated for improvement on the medication or lack of improvement despite the medication.  So, for me this argument doesn’t hold water.

But regardless, more and more people are looking to Canada,  Mexico, China, and other countries for their medications

The problem is that they can no way verify that what they are actually taking is what is being sold.

Absorption of a Medication

Every time you take a medication, whether it is Acetaminophen or a Depression medication, a portion of the medication will be lost in the digestive process.

What does this mean?  

For arguments sake, lets say that 50% of the medication is lost from the moment in enters your mouth, until it is absorbed in the stomach.  As the process of digestion begins, the medication usually is intended to be digested through the stomach. As this happens, the medication is actually broken down and absorbed. Sooner or later it enters your blood stream.

This is why dosing is very important. A larger does may mean more absorption. This will help treat you more effectively.  Though there is a saturation point, where more medication doesn’t mean a better effectiveness. A balance is needed to be found.

Counterfeit Medication

This is also called fake medication. Often the medication cannot be verified.  This means you could be taking IBU instead of that expensive muscle relaxer that you are trying to find.   Even if they work to make the medication look like what you are used to taking, you just never know.

Then we are back to dosing. Even if you are taking the right medication, how do you know the dosing is right. This is the real problem. Maybe you are over or under medicating. It is hard to tell, unless you are a pharmaceutical and analysis genius to know if you are taking what you need to be taking.

Some medications, even off by a small amount will drastically change the effectiveness of the medication.

I’ve brought this argument up with my friends, and they think that even some medication is better than no medication. It is hard to sway them differently. But, I hope that they at least know the risk that they are taking.

The WHO or World Health Organization has also looked into this large problem.  They are identifying several areas where fake medications are being used and abused.

They are following several cases where treatment failure and death have resulted because of fake medications.   They tend to call fake medications SFFC medicines.  SFFC means Spurious – Falsely labeled – Falsified – Counterfeit (SFFC) medicines.

The WHO also came up with some of the fake medications.  In 2012 in the US, a counterfeit medication for cancer was found. Avastin was the medication name and it lacked the active ingredient in the medication.

For the last several years Viagra and Cialis have been counterfeited.  This medication is for erectile dysfunction and is a common “underground” medication.

Other medications that have been targeted are HIV medications, Weight loss medications, depression medications, high blood pressure medications, and more.

Overall, the risk of fake medications far outweighs the benefits they could provide. You must think that whoever is creating these medications is doing so for a profit. They will cut corners, even if they are well intended. There is a reason medications are so closely controlled. It is a very difficult and important area and we need to make sure we are doing it right.

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