The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that close to $83 billion worth of counterfeit drugs are sold annually, and one in 10 medical products circulating in developing countries are substandard or fake.
Drug resistance caused by counterfeit medicines poses a very serious global health threat and intensifies the challenge of fighting infectious diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis. In most cases, the fraudulent drugs contain weaker amounts of active ingredients or none at all.
In Africa, the proliferation of counterfeit antimalarial drugs results in more than 120,000 deaths each year.
Even though the United States has a closed drug distribution system intended to prevent counterfeits from entering U.S. markets, it isn’t foolproof. One reason is because of illegal online pharmacies. Learn more here.
Can I buy medication outside the U.S.?
It is illegal in most cases for people to import drugs into the U.S. for personal use.
There are two concerns about having pharmacies in other countries fill prescriptions:
- Some products have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use and sale in the U.S.
- The FDA cannot ensure the safety and effectiveness of medicine purchased over the internet from a foreign country.
When buying medication online, consumers should know where the product is coming from and that the medicine is being sold by a pharmacy that is located and licensed in the United States.
Canadian online pharmacies
Canada does have a reputation for having safe and affordable medicines. But the FDA found that nearly 85 percent of drugs sold from pharmacies claiming to be “Canadian” actually come from other countries. The medicines consumers receive from these fraudulent websites are not inspected by Canadian health officials and may not be up to the same standards legal American and Canadian pharmacies must meet.