Checking the authenticity of medicines at home

Monday, 17 December 2018

The manufacture and distribution of fake medicines is an enormous and growing public health risk with an untold cost to lives. According to a report published by the World Health Organisation, one in ten medical products circulating in low- and middle-income countries are estimated to be either substandard or falsified, endangering the lives of millions.

After buying medicines from the pharmacy, have you ever taken the trouble to verify their authenticity?Moving forward, it’s time to start doing it.

Here are some ways in which you can ascertain their authenticity:

1. Check the seal

The security seal, especially in bottled medicines, should not be damaged or tampered. Look for a crack or break in the sealing tape before making the purchase. If you feel it is broken or tampered, do not buy it.

2. Check the packaging

This is perhaps the simplest method. If it is a medicine you have purchased previously, look at the font, spellings, and the colour. Most often, one or all of these are wrong in a fake medicine.

3. Visual inspection of medicines

As stated by the World Health Organisation, the common physical attributes that need to be looked up in medicine tablets are:

• Small pieces of tablets or excessive powder at the bottom of the medicine container;

• Cracks in the tablets;

• The appearance of crystals on the container walls or the medicine tablets;

• Softening or hardening of the medicines;

• Swelling, spots or discolouration of the tablets

4. Price

If there is a sudden dip in the price of the medicines, then be sure to double-check. The chances in such a case can mean that it is a spurious drug. Medicines are usually manufactured in comparatively the same manner; hence, changes in the pricing of one brand can greatly affect all other pharmaceutical companies. So beware!

5. Unexpected side-effects or allergies

The immediate impact that counterfeit drugs can have on us is an allergic reaction or a sudden unexpected side-effect. The spurious drugs may contain incorrect substances, improper dosage or hazardous substances, which do not elicit any therapeutic effect. If you experience any unforeseen side-effects, stop consuming the medicine immediately and check with your doctor.