Counterfeit Medications Are Taking Over the Internet. Here’s How to Spot Them.

The internet is home to a unique group of villains, ominous figures we are all warned about: cyberbullyers, identity thieves, hackers, shady strangers. But at this particularly dark moment in (digital) history, the web’s most devious characters aren’t just phishing scammers trying to trick you into sharing your credit card details, but rather seemingly harmless players: online pharmacies. “A 2021 survey by the Global Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies found that 95% of online pharmacies operate illegally,” says VICE News host and medical researcher Avisha Nessaiver. “This means they often peddle counterfeit medicines that may have illegal substances laced with them.”

In a post-quarantine world, more than ever, we’re viewing virtual rooms as valid alternatives to things like in-person doctor visits and therapy sessions – and as digital pharmacy becomes a more trusted resource, we’re seeing a major rise in unlicensed online pharmacies selling drugs without Sell ​​prescription at discounted prices to ignorant patients. “This is one of those issues that doesn’t get nearly the public attention it deserves,” said Rick Roberts, a professor of medical sciences at the University of San Francisco. For him, the subject is very close: in the early 1980s, he unknowingly bought a counterfeit AIDS drug. “When it happened to me, nobody wanted to share their medical issues publicly, so we didn’t warn each other … but once I realized what happened, I knew I had to talk about it.”

Several years passed, and Roberts thought the dangers of the counterfeit drug market had diminished significantly – until now. “I thought it would be over by the time the internet came along,” he says. “Now people are ordering things from all over the world and the FDA has no control over what happens outside of our borders.”

Fortunately, research and development teams at Pfizer are currently working hard to slow down and better identify popular counterfeit drugs to protect consumers. “Our main concern is the fact that people don’t even know it’s them concerned about counterfeit medicines,” said Lev Kubiak, vice president and associate security officer at Pfizer. “When you search for medication online, you see a lot of fake pharmacy sites, so that’s a big risk.” At Pfizer’s labs, teams of trained chemists are dedicated to analyzing suspect drugs provided by law enforcement or customs officials, hoping to provide physicians with the information they need to mitigate side effects of counterfeit drugs. “With more research and consumer education, we can stop this,” adds Kubiak.

Watch the video above for a closer look at what’s going on in Pfizer’s research and development labs and how to spot potentially counterfeit drugs online – and then do your best to gather information about the dangers sharing counterfeit medicines your circles.


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