Bad medicine
December 22, 2005 5:43 PM   Subscribe

The problem of fake pharmaceutical drugs
posted by daksya (21 comments total)
sometimes you want more than cement dust..
posted by Frasermoo at 6:11 PM on December 22, 2005

the article wouldn't be so bad if it didn't reek so much of anti-pharma sentiment.

clearly fake drugs is a big issue with serious consequences. but how much responsibility should drug companies have when it comes to counterfeits? the responsibility could be split up to include the patients, physicians, health organizations, countries distributing and countries known to be centers for manufacturing the fakes.

don't get me wrong. i'm just as outraged that Glaxo would put a muzzle on the whole deal re: fake anti-malarials, but i can't help but wonder why nations of distribution and manufacture aren't held as accountable, especially when there's a known history of counterfeit use or production. besides, who says drug cos. aren't doing anything? Frasermoo's link above mentions that Pfizer sent its own undercover operatives.

anyway, what a balls FPP.
posted by herrdoktor at 6:13 PM on December 22, 2005

This may not be the best article, but the problem is real and very dangerous. It occurs at all levels from a pharmacist who dilutes a drug, fake drugs which are attempts at the real thing to plain dust packaged as a drug. Patients get hurt and die, money is lost, graft and greed spreads through governments and other bad things occur. Selling a drug which is a trademark fake hurts the trademark owner, but selling a drug which is fake and which fails to contain the active ingredient or otherwise might harm a patient is lower than low, often tantamount to or actually murder. Someone who commits such a crime does not deserve to mingle with the free population. They have the potential of, and frequently succeed at, hurting or killing many, many people putting them among the most dangerous criminals to society.
posted by caddis at 7:02 PM on December 22, 2005

and finish your antibiotics, even if the symptoms are gone.
posted by wumpus at 7:39 PM on December 22, 2005

Excellent article. Thanks for the link.

What would be useful is some info on how to ensure you're not getting fakes... I live in Asia and had no idea how bad this problem was.
posted by missbossy at 7:52 PM on December 22, 2005

Viagra ... cement dust ... (joke.)
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:56 PM on December 22, 2005

well missbossy, right now the odds are stacked against the american consumer, and i doubt as an expat or native asian, you are much better off there.... your best bet is to have a doctor in the family.
posted by phaedon at 8:15 PM on December 22, 2005

daksya, sorry about the dig. i was in a foul mood, which was made worse from reading the article. i should've been constructive n mebbe calm down a bit. i apologize.

one of the things that struck me from the article was the bit about the faked holograms. it reminded me of the efforts made at counterfeiting software, particularly microsoft's windows anti-counterfeiting measures. besides holograms, windows comes with certificates that look like currency, complete with a holographic thread woven in and out of the paper!

i don't know how things work outside the US, but here every drug is part of a lot, and every lot is numbered/serialized. things can be traced back to the source. this doesn't do much for "loose" meds, tho.
posted by herrdoktor at 8:30 PM on December 22, 2005

Aha! This explains why my Indian Valium doesn't do shit.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:02 PM on December 22, 2005

Viagra ... cement dust ... (joke.)

Both get you hard.

Happy to help.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:04 PM on December 22, 2005

This is very frightening. Here in South Africa, pharmacists express financial difficulty due to government regulation of what they can charge. This would create pressure to allow such counterfeit drugs in.

In my case, my greatest worry would be over malaria prevention drugs, which are required when traveling in Kruger Park or north of South African borders.
posted by Goofyy at 9:26 PM on December 22, 2005

The problem of fake drugs is not restricted to pharmaceuticals, of course. I guess you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette.
posted by Astragalus at 9:31 PM on December 22, 2005

I don't get it. If you're going to fake drugs, why put any "real drug" in there at all?

The article talks about syrup that was diluted to 40%. Obviously, at 40%, it isn't going to do any good. So why not just make it 100% fake?
posted by Afroblanco at 9:53 PM on December 22, 2005

I imagine because 100% fakes would be easier to detect.

(F'rinstance, if a drug's supposed to have certain side effects, and you take it and don't feel those side effects at all, you might suspect something's wrong.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:18 PM on December 22, 2005

What's the worry? Homeopathic drugs are the "in" thing now. Diluting the drugs just serves to make them more powerful!
posted by five fresh fish at 11:13 PM on December 22, 2005

the article wouldn't be so bad if it didn't reek so much of anti-pharma sentiment.

The article wouldn't reek of so much anti-pharma sentiment if the drug companies weren't behaving like such assholes over the issue.

besides, who says drug cos. aren't doing anything?

Well, certainly not the article. That outlines exactly what they are doing. ie. sending in their own private security people to try and run the counterfieters to ground while simultaneously keeping the whole thing quiet.

don't get me wrong. i'm just as outraged that Glaxo would put a muzzle on the whole deal re: fake anti-malarials

Hey, you could have fooled me.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:30 AM on December 23, 2005

With crap like Vioxx making it onto the market, maybe patients are better off sometimes with counterfeits. Even better would be a pill that looked like Vioxx, but actually contained something like dilaudid. I see a ripe marketing opportunity here, folks.
posted by telstar at 1:05 AM on December 23, 2005

I haven't time to read that entire thing rignt now, but are they REALLY trying to blame the drug companies for the proliferatioon of FAKE drugs?


Since when is it THEIR responsibility to police such things? And if they DID, I have a life's savings here that bets the same whiners would be bitching about the "police state" nazi drug companies.
posted by HTuttle at 7:12 AM on December 23, 2005

Perhaps it is not their responsibility, but the drug companies do perform the heavy lifting here. They have a strong incentive to keep this stuff off the street. Obviously, it eats into sales, but that is minor compared to the other damage it can cause to them. If someone is hurt or injured the drug company can get sued and proving that it was a fake can be a problem as often the evidence has been discarded by then. It can sully the reputation of an otherwise good medicine, either by making people think these problems come from the legitimate medicine or by lowering confidence that you will actually get the genuine product. It is a criminal matter, but usually the drug company identifies the problem, if not the actual perpetrators, and then the authorities step in to make the arrest etc.
posted by caddis at 7:41 AM on December 23, 2005

I've stopped using drugs altogether since I discovered the healing benefits of the stolen bones of dead cancer patients who once hosted PBS television shows.
posted by maxsparber at 8:42 AM on December 23, 2005

telstar, I'm curious as to how you'd defend your accusation that Vioxx is crap. I know several people who suffer terrible arthritis, and Vioxx is the only drug so far that has allowed them to get out of bed.

The bullshit about repressing side-effect data, the bullshit about not ensuring patients are being very closely monitored, etc, sure: that was all stupid and evil.

But the drug itself seems to be a helluva miracle.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:25 AM on December 23, 2005

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