As prescription drugs are now being substituted for illegal drugs, there is a growing problem with not only drug wholesalers but with internet pharmacies that can increase their profits by selling counterfeit drugs. Many people who want to purchase a narcotic like heroin know that the heroin that they purchase on the street may have some ingredients that are harmful. In addition, they don’t know the amount of real heroin and this can lead to either a not very good high or maybe an overdose if the purity is higher than they think.

These users much prefer to purchase pharmaceutical grade heroin like OxyContin because they know the purity and trust that it was made in sanitary labs that are overseen by the FDA. However, Institute of Medicine is the latest group to point out the growing number of counterfeit drugs that are being sold by drug wholesalers,either intentionally or not, and the internet pharmacies. Because the profits are so huge, many criminals have arranged for counterfeit drugs, like OxyContin to be produced in labs where sanity is the least concern. They also dilute the drug as much as they can and then sell if for a large profit.

This is a real problem when you start counterfeiting drugs like blood thinners because if the drug is counterfeit it will not keep the blood thin and can cause many serious health problems that are difficult to diagnose because neither the person and their doctor seldom suspect the drug is counterfeit. They may prescribe a higher than needed dose that creates problems if the patient acquires the actual drug.

The Institute of Medicine has recommended:

  • Regulators in low- and middle-income countries should use guidance from the International Conference on Harmonization to sync procedures, quality-control standards, and application costs to reduce burdens for manufacturers.
  • Regulators should also conduct joint inspections and use a common inspection report to harmonize international oversight.
  • Governments across the world should develop communication and training programs for consumers and health workers on the quality and safety of medicines.
  • International bodies, including the World Health Assembly, should develop a code of practice for falsified and substandard medicines.

If not addressed soon, this problem will only get worse and more and more people will suffer.