Counterfeit pharmaceuticals are a serious and ever-growing threat to public safety. Monitoring the trade is difficult, resulting in the precise scale of the problem being unknown, however evidence shows that it is not just lifestyle drugs that are targeted nowadays. Adverse health problems, including fatalities, have resulted from consumers self-medicating with counterfeit products. Without efforts to enhance the public’s knowledge, the problem will continue to persist.
According to a research released by the World Health Organization (WHO) in November 2017, an estimated 1 in 10 medical products circulating in low and middle-income countries are either falsified or substandard. The bogus-drug trade is not only a nation’s problem but a danger to the whole of mankind.
One of the most counterfeited drugs is Xanax a powerful benzodiazepine that is often prescribed to treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorders and insomnia. It is extremely addictive when used long-term. Xanax is the number one prescribed psychiatric medication in the United States. Seventy percent of teens with a Xanax addiction get the drug from their family’s medicine cabinet.
Tolerance to Xanax develops quickly, requiring the user to take more of the drug to achieve the desired effects. Someone with a Xanax addiction may take up to 20 to 30 pills per day. If the user decides to stop taking Xanax, they may experience withdrawal effects, such as anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and tremors. The onset of withdrawal symptoms is a sign that a physical dependence has developed. The development of tolerance and withdrawal are indications of addiction.
Once a Xanax addiction has taken hold, daily responsibilities, such as school, work or family, are ignored as energy is redirected towards drug seeking behavior.
Fentalyl-laced drugs fake Xanax is an emerging dilemma. Fentanyl is deadly in small doses, according to the NIDA. It also poses threats to first responders, as the drug is absorbed through the skin and can lead to overdoses. The Drug Enforcement Administration said fentanyl, a synthetic drug, is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Doses as small as 2 milligrams can be fatal to most people. Fortunately Public health experts have are now educating people on fake White Xanax bars and how to spot them.
Since many counterfeits are made abroad and can arrive in the U.S. through the mail or are smuggled in, FDA works with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and using a risk-based approach focuses on areas that present the most threat to our drug supply.
Drug safety and quality no longer begin or end at the border. The U.S. government works with foreign regulatory counterparts when possible to disrupt or close illegal operations involving the production and distribution of counterfeits.
Health care providers and consumers need to be aware of how they could be exposed to counterfeit medicines. Watch out for possible signs of a counterfeit drug:
- Does the drug or packaging look different than what you normally receive?
- Has the consumer experienced a new or unusual side effect after using the drug?
- Did the consumer buy the drug from an internet seller?
Purchasing unapproved drugs is risky business. Health care providers and supply chain stakeholders need to only buy from authorized and licensed entities to help ensure they are getting safe and effective drugs that have been approved by FDA.