Recent Survey Highlights Need for More and Better Information About Counterfeit Drugs

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Late last month, the drug manufacturer, Sanofi, announced the results of a recent survey examining perceptions of the risks associated with counterfeit medicines. Conducted in July 2015, the survey sheds light on Americans’ lack of understanding about counterfeit medicines. The findings indicate the continued great need for consumer education on this important topic.

According to the survey of 1,500 Americans, only 12% of respondents feel that they have enough information on counterfeit medicines, and in most cases, are more likely to associate counterfeiting with consumer goods rather than medicines. In addition, 74% of survey respondents were not aware of the risk involved in purchasing prescription drugs online. Below are additional findings about the perceived risks of counterfeit medicines:
More than half of those surveyed (53%) said they had never heard of counterfeit medicines, and a vast majority (82%) felt that they had never been exposed to counterfeit drugs.

  • 54% considered that the danger from counterfeit drugs was undisputable, while 40% felt that it was potential.
  • 41% of respondents said they had no information about counterfeit medicines, and only 12% felt that they had been given sufficient information.
  • Almost 8 out of every 10 people felt that the greatest risk of exposure to counterfeit drugs stemmed from the purchase of medicines online (79%).
  • 62% feel that there is also a risk when traveling abroad.
  • 59% believe it is possible that counterfeit medicines might be found in traditional retail channels in the U.S.

According to Geoffroy Bessaud, Associate Vice President for Anti-Counterfeit Coordination at Sanofi, “The findings of this study demonstrate that the burden is still too poorly perceived by populations as a whole, and underline the need for the public at large to be better informed about the risks involved.”

In another similar survey conducted by Consumer Reports, almost 60% of respondents said they’re trying to cut health care costs. Many of them said they get bargains on medications, for example, by buying them from online pharmacies outside the U.S., and many are unaware of the dangers involved in doing so.

Based on the survey results described, more education is certainly needed. This is why, at CSIP, we share patient safety information in several ways – through our website, blog, and various social media channels (including Facebook, Twitter, and Google+) – to help people better understand the dangers of counterfeit prescription drugs sold online. We urge consumers to check all online pharmacy sites before they buy using our LegitScript Pharmacy Verification Tool, and educate themselves about the dangers of illegitimate online pharmaceuticals and pharmacies.

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The Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP) and our 12 member companies have the shared goal of helping address the growing problem  of consumer access to illegitimate pharmaceutical products on the Internet. Continue to read this blog for updates on CSIP’s education, enforcement and information-sharing efforts.