Combating Counterfeit Drugs May 2005 Update - Educating Consumers and Health Professionals
In the Report, we noted that educating consumers about the risks of counterfeits is a critical piece of the effort to stop counterfeits from entering the stream of commerce. In the past year we have taken many steps towards educating consumers. First, we developed two public service announcements (PSAs) geared to consumers. These PSAs ran in 4.5 million magazines. In addition, 4.6 million medication leaflets distributed by retail pharmacies with patient's prescriptions also carried these PSAs along with additional consumer information about counterfeit drugs. Also, FDA drafted an article about counterfeit drugs that was printed in several local papers nationwide, with an estimated readership of about 9.5 million consumers.
We also set up a webpage on the FDA website for consumers to obtain information about counterfeit drugs, FDA initiatives, and educational information. This website can be found at http://www.fda.gov/FDAgov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm2007095.htm. In addition, the National Consumers League (NCL) developed a highly informative website containing useful consumer information about counterfeit drugs.
In the past year, FDA partnered with the National Health Council (NHC) to jointly create and disseminate educational messages on counterfeit drugs. NHC is a private, non-profit organization of over 100 national health-related organizations. Under this partnership, messages to raise awareness of the dangers of counterfeit drugs and how to avoid them will be developed and tested to measure their effectiveness. In addition, products will be created to deliver these messages to the target audience.
In addition, FDA is developing educational messages to inform pharmacists about how to recognize counterfeits, counsel patients on how to minimize the risk of exposure to counterfeits, and on how to notify FDA if a counterfeit drug is suspected. These efforts are in the early stages.
In the Report, we said that we would re-launch our safe online buying practice campaign. In March 2005, we launched a new campaign with tips for consumers on how to buy drugs safely on the Internet and minimize their risks of getting a counterfeit or otherwise substandard drug.
Next steps: We will increase dissemination of the PSAs and counterfeit drug messages. We will continue to update and post relevant information on the counterfeit drug webpage. We will also continue to work with the NHC to finalize educational messages and develop a dissemination strategy for those messages. In the coming months, we will also work with pharmacy organizations to finalize educational messages for pharmacists and develop a strategy to disseminate these messages.