Counterfeit drugs could be turning into a real problem in the U.S. Consumers think they're getting a great deal when buying medicines online, but they may not be getting the real thing.
With the high cost of prescription drugs, some patients are looking for alternatives to the traditional pharmacy. Many are using online pharmacies to save a little money. But the benefits of money saved may not be worth it.
"The problem with internet pharmacies and getting the medicine from other countries is that they are a lot of counterfeit drugs," said Judi Henneke, a pharmacist at the Pharmacy Shop in Bryan.
Henneke says problems can arise when medicines switch hands several times through different wholesalers. She says it's best if the drugs come directly from the manufacturer.
Drug counterfeiting schemes take in millions of dollars all over the world. According to a recent study, the U.S. has the highest reported incidents involving drug counterfeiting, theft and diversion. That's why many doctors want their patients to let them know exactly who is filling their prescriptions.
"It's best to just let the doctor know and that way at least we can be aware that there is this potential problem. Of course we're all trying to save money and we understand that drugs are getting very expensive, but communication, I think is the key here," said Dr Ricardo Pocurull, a rheumatologist.
Dr Pocurull says counterfeit or poor quality drugs can have serious side effects and can even cause death in cases of patients with cancer or heart problems.
Pharmacists also say that medications stored at the wrong room temperature can become ineffective and advise patients to know exactly where their medicine is coming from and who they're dealing with.
Some ways to possibly save money on your prescriptions is to see if you qualify for any discount cards and check with your insurance and see what types of plans are available.