Check Yourself

2 01 2014

As I am looking for articles on counterfeits, I keep finding news articles about how they are on the rise. Last year, we saw the fake Avastin (cancer drug) come in to the USA. We were warned by the FDA on other medications. Most of these stem from purchasing drugs online. Before purchasing online check yourself. If it’s too good to be true, 99.9% of the time it is. If the web page is verified, don’t buy from it. Your health and livelihood are not good to gamble with.

The most recent counterfeit drug articles are headlined with:

Be careful this year when purchasing drugs. Be aware and share this information to anyone and everyone you know. It is estimated $75 billion worth of counterfeit drugs were unknowingly purchased last year. One article that I liked talked about how counterfeit drugs are one of the top concerns in 2014. This is according to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute that recently issued a report listing 10 issues that will reshape the healthcare industry next year, including several health IT issues. I hope this will come to fruition and counterfeits will dwindle year by year.


2012 Blog Review

30 12 2012

Had some great success in this blog so far this year. I’m hoping next year, I will be more vigilant and write a post a week to keep everyone more informed on this growing under-detected  public health concern. I appreciate everyone who reads this and passes the information on. If you have any questions, please feel to free to email me or leave a comment! Thanks for your support. 😀

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,500 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 14 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

What Does ‘Safe Medicines’ Mean to You?

30 07 2012
  • Not going to be a victim of fraudsters and criminals on the internet
  • Saving millions of lives
  • Patient empowerment
  • Trust, faith, and confidence what I purchase out of a pharmacy is a quality product
  • Do more good than harm, doing what intended for, healing, and buy what intended to
  • Patient safety

What do they mean to you? To me I completely agree with the answers in the video (also written above). From all my research and reading the past few years, I’ve come to realize that trust and healing along with patient safety is what safe medicines do. Safety is one of the basic human needs. I also know that in this world, you cannot trust everyone and every product you purchase. In order to get your safety you need to be smart in what you are buying. If something is amiss – report it. It is sad that we have come to a world where you cannot be sure your medicines are safe. It really gets depressing thinking about it. Here you are sick, or even worse, your child is sick and you need medicine. What a tragedy it would be if those meds you purchased for your child were counterfeit and they were doing more harm than good internally? It would be crushing. Safe medicines means that you and your family can get the best that you deserve. All you can do is be smart and research. Doing all you can do is all you can do to ensure you get the best.

Counterfeit medications are becoming more sophisticated and harder to trace. The goal of the “bad guys” are to keep you feeling better so you think your medicine is working. I do not think they want to kill you, if they do that they have no patient. What are these counterfeiters without their consumers?

6th Global Congress Combating Counterfeiting & Piracy‏

9 02 2011

First, I want to thank Mr. George Kearse for emailing me a few weeks ago telling me about this event. Also, it was awesome that my blog was mentioned! Thanks.

The 6th Global Congress Combating Counterfeiting & Piracy‏ was held in Paris on February 2-3, 2011. From the website it says that this congress aims to build cooperation to enhance public awareness — and concerted action — to successfully confront these problems. It seeks to create a better understanding of the elements fueling the trade in illegitimate goods and to develop sustainable solutions to stop it.

There will be materials concerning what was talked about at the event up shortly on their website. I would advise for you to keep checking it. However, I did receive some information from George Kearse about his talking points. He spoke about consignments and shipping and he said, “We have to be constantly reinventing ourselves to be ahead of the game!” I really liked his speech on public awareness. This blog is aimed towards that. I try to keep things updated so that tihs problem can be known.

He goes on wondering what is being done about public awareness, such as campaigns. Just as he stated “where are the posters?” I’ve been wondeirng the same thing. I follow a few people on Twitter that talk about this problem, but generally no one knows this is a problem at all. This problem affects us all,even our pets! The WHO has a taskforce aimed at counterfeits called “International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce” The taskforce, created in 2006, has been active in forging international collaboration to seek global solutions to this global challenge and in raising awareness of the dangers of counterfeit medical products.

Please go on the congress webpage to get more information. Please spread the word out about counterfeits! Follow me on twitter @JustFinishIt.  Another GREAT account is @SafeMedicines <— Just for pharmaceuticals.

Safe Medicines Interchange

8 10 2010

Today, I was at the Partnership for Safe Medicine’s 2010 Interchange. I had the ability to attend and listen to a bunch of speakers and learn many different things about counterfeit drugs from various perspectives. It started this morning at 8:30 with a panel discussion headed up by Dr. Marv D. Shepherd. The next panel was headed by Dr. Bryan A. Liang and the last panel was lead by Tom Kubic. The Interchange adjourned with Margaret Hamburg’s, the FDA commissioner, remarks.

The whole conference was very enlightening. I felt educated today. Also, I could actually talk with others about this topic and I could follow along with the panels and come to my own conclusions. If you missed the panels or the commissioner’s discussions, you can click HERE to view in the C-Span archives. I will quickly summarize each of the panels and what I got out of them. Watching the video feed would be more beneficial. There is so much good information there.

Panel 1: Who’s Getting Hurt by Counterfeit Drugs?
I thoroughly enjoyed what Rick Roberts had to say. He talked about his encounter with counterfeit medications. It is an amazing story. Consumers need to be more educated in light of their medications and what they are taking. He takes over 10,000 pills a year. He has to depend on prescription drugs to stay alive. Most Americans use medications everyday from multi-vitamins to Insulin shots. AZT was the drug that Rick took because he was infected with HIV. His friends were dying. It was tough. Then in 2000 he was diagnosed with HIV-wasting syndrome and had to take a growth hormone that is injected daily. Halfway through he noticed a stinging of the injection sights. With his experience prior with the drug, it never stung him before. He started checking out the different sets of drugs he had and then he asked for his pharmacist and told him of the stinging and problems. His pharmacist told him to go home and check because they may be the fake stuff. Basically, Rick went home and check he compared the boxes and found a box and some darker ink and missing a symbol, etc. He had counterfeit meds. I also liked what Salvatore Giorgianni said about counterfeits. He was talking about his son in the beginning, who is a pharmacist. His son asked his dad “countefeits drugs… there are such things?” Salvatore Giorgianni is saying that we need to let people know about this. I agree with him. EVERYONE is affected and everyone should know about this. He finds it amazing that people pay more attention to what pet food they buy and what oil they put in their cars. We need to pay more attention to what is in our own bodies! If we cannot work our bodies then we cannot buy our pet food and we cannot buy our oil. The whole panel was very good.

Panel 2: Who’s Benefiting from Unsafe Drugs?
Basically, what I gathered was that the bad people are the only ones that benefit. Nancy Kennedy, Food & Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, deliberately states that the bad guys are the ones benefiting. Jeffrey Gren, from the U.S. Department of Commerce, states that the criminals are at every level of manufacturing. This is so true and so scary. Your medicines can be tainted at ANY level. The beginning process to the end process of shipment and even at the pharmacy. To me it seems a lot of this boils down to money. Even though the conference stressed the consumer side the most. I do not even have to wonder why people do what they do… usually, it boils down to money.

Panel 3: Who’s Making Progress Against Counterfeit Drugs?
After a great lunch and a great talk by Bejon Misra, Healthy You Foundation (India). We all proceeded back to the conference room and heard from more speakers on this topic. Dr. Michael Green, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, talked about PH levels in counterfeits and how you can tell they are fake because of the levels in them. There are simple field tests that can be done and there are tests where you collect the drug sample and sent it to a lab equipped with a HPLC (High-performance liquid chromatography). It got pretty technical in this panel. Sending drugs to a lab takes a while though and new technology will help this process way faster so that consumers can get information faster and then recalls of “bad” medications can be stopped. This will save money and lives. Hugo Bonar, Irish Medicines Board, talked about Europe and the initiatives going on there. He stated that,  “By the end of the day the focus is to get the packaging with security measures on them.” Medicines need to be checked at point of dispensing by the pharmacist. It seems that there is some progress being made, such as organizations addressing products and manufacturing, but we are still a long way to go. With as big of an issue that this is more people need to know!

FDA Commissioner Remarks.
Dr. Margaret Hamburg, who is the FDA commissioner, mostly summarized how bad counterfeits are and what the FDA’s goals are. She talked about the FDA beginning with the “pure food and drug act”. She says that, “We must use all the tools are our disposal to do the right thing.” With the information you receive… do the right thing.

I would highly recommend going back and watching the videos. Each of the panels were great and had good information. You can visit PSM’s website and find the whole agenda and then go to C-Span and watch each individual panel if you choose. At least educate yourself just a bit more on this topic.

More $$$ in Counterfeiting than Heroin

20 09 2010

I came across an article today that was posted a few days ago from USAToday. The article called “Growing Problem of Fake Drugs Hurting Patients, Companies.”

“You can make more money in counterfeit drugs than heroin,” says Tom Kubic, CEO of Pharmaceutical Security Institute (PSI). “There’s a major financial incentive for criminals because of the low risk of detection and prosecution.”

From all of my research on this subject. I have come to the same conclusion. Everyone wants/needs medicines. Half of the time people do not even realize they are counterfeits. Some people may realize the risk, but go ahead anyways because that risk outweighs their health and money status.

There are so many things wrong with counterfeits it is amazing. Different people and sectors are hurt from this problem; property rights are infringed upon, medicine companies lose profits, patients’ health worsen, jobs are lost, gangs get more “funding”, etc.  Since 2004, counterfeit drug incidents have tripled! 1,700 incidents were reported world-wide last year. PSI estimates the size of counterfeit drug market range from $75 billion to $ 200 billion a year. Honestly, this number is bigger due to the lack of detection.

Scott Davis, a senior regional director in U.S. drug giant Pfizer‘s global security division, believes the “lack of education and awareness of the dangers,” is what drives consumers to purchase counterfeit medicines. Counterfeits have been around for years and have become harder to detect. About 50% of medicines purchased from online retailers have found to be fake says the WHO (World Health Organization). Bryan Liang, a professor at California Western School of Law in San Diego and a Board Member for the Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) says the “perfect storm” from the popularity of Pfizer’s erectile dysfunction drug, Viagra, in the 1990s fueled the underground economy of selling fake pharmaceuticals.

Counterfeits are a real problem. It is a shame that it is not a more “well-known” public health issue.  Education of this problem would be very beneficial to all. I encourage everyone to read more on this and spread the word and use your education to be a better consumer.

Unneeded Regulation

27 08 2010

I just recently wrote a blog post for the Property Rights Alliance, which is part of my internship. It is a better write-up of it than I previously did earlier on this blog. To read the article, click here.

Here is a little brief overview… The FDA is wanting to regulate cough medicines, which I mentioned earlier. This is not a good idea at all. Property rights and safety will take the ultimate toll. After property rights and safety what much left is there? To read more about this regulation you can follow it at ATR or the PRA website.