U.S. flag An official website of the United States government
  1. Home
  2. Drugs
  3. Resources for You | Drugs
  4. Counterfeit Medicines - Filled With Empty Promises
  1. Drugs

Counterfeit Medicines - Filled With Empty Promises

You can avoid counterfeit medicine by purchasing only from U.S. state-licensed pharmacies.

(NAPS)—While counterfeit medicines are rare in the United States, you must take an active role in managing your medicines to ensure you’re not at risk. Here are some important facts about
counterfeit medicine from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Counterfeit medicines are fake or copycat medicines. They may:

  • be contaminated
  • contain the wrong active ingredients (the formula that makes the medicine work)
  • be made with the wrong amount of ingredients
  • contain no active ingredients at all
  • be packaged in phony packaging.

Medicines that are counterfeit may not help the condition the medicine was intended to treat and may lead to dangerous side effects. How can you avoid counterfeits?

  • Purchase ONLY from state-licensed pharmacies that are located in the United States, where FDA and state authorities can assure the quality of drug manufacturing, packaging, distribution and labeling. This way, you know your medicine is coming from a reputable source, and you can get help if you have any problems with your medicine. If you buy over the Internet:
    • Check to see if a pharmacy is licensed, is in good standing, and is located in the United States. Contact your local state board of pharmacy or the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) at http://www.nabp.net  or 1-847-698-6227, or
    • Check to see if an Internet pharmacy site has the VIPPS Seal, the seal of the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites Accreditation Program. This program was established by the NABP to help protect you and guide you through Internet pharmacy shopping. Legitimate pharmacies that carry the VIPPS Seal.
  • Know your medicine. Any time you get a prescription refilled, check the color, texture,
    taste and shape of the medicine. Anything different? Talk to your pharmacist.
  • Give your doctor and pharmacist a complete list of all medicines (over-the-counter and prescription) that you use. They will also want to know what dietary supplements you use, including vitamins and herbals.