The safety and efficacy of over-the-counter (OTC) medications play a crucial role in maintaining your health and managing everyday symptoms. However, the accessibility of counterfeit medications is a growing and challenging problem worldwide.
Counterfeit drugs can be dangerous, ineffective, and potentially life-threatening in some cases. To ensure that you’re buying authentic OTC medications, follow these simple steps from renowned pharmaceutical expert Estela Arco.
Purchase from The Most Reputable Pharmaceutical Sources
To minimize the risk of purchasing counterfeit medications, buy your OTC products from reputable sources. Some notable examples are established pharmacies, medical supply stores, and trusted online retailers. You must avoid purchasing medication from unfamiliar websites, street vendors, or unlicensed sellers. Also, always be cautious if the price of a medical product seems too good to be true.
Verify The Medication Packaging
You must examine the packaging of the OTC medication you’re buying. Authentic products typically have clear and readable labels that include the drug’s active ingredients, directions for use, dosage, safety warnings, and expiration date.
Also, watch out for the red flags that may indicate counterfeit products, such as smudged or illegible text. misaligned or poorly printed logos, tampered or altered seals, and some missing details like batch or lot numbers.
Examine the Medication Itself Thoroughly
Before taking a new OTC medication, closely inspect the product itself. Look for inconsistencies in color, shape, size, or texture compared to other pills or capsules from the same brand. The medication should also be free from unusual odors or tastes. And if you notice any discrepancies, it’s best to consult a pharmacist or healthcare professional before using it.
Check For Standardized Markings
Some OTC medications have standardized markings such as the National Drug Code (NDC) in the United States. This comprises a unique 10-digit identification code assigned by the FDA to all drug products. You must check for the presence of such markings or authenticity logos that assure you the drug is from a legitimate manufacturer or source.
Research The Medication Manufacturer
Perform a quick search on the background of the medication’s manufacturer to ensure it is a reputable, recognized company with a positive track record. Make sure the company has a valid presence on the internet through official websites and documented regulatory approvals. Also, note customer reviews and feedback to learn about potential authenticity issues.
Always Consult Your Pharmacist
Pharmacists like Estela Arco are trained professionals who can help you confirm the authenticity of an OTC medication. If you’re uncertain about a drug’s legitimacy, reach out to a pharmacist, and ask for their expert opinion. They can inspect the medication and its packaging and may have experience with the genuine product that can help them discern any counterfeits.
Be Wary of Sudden Changes in Medication’s Efficacy
And finally, you must check if your OTC medication suddenly becomes less effective, has different side effects, or you find variations in the drug’s physical appearance (capsules, tablets, or packaging). In that case, you must consider the possibility that the medicine could be counterfeit. In that case, you must consult a healthcare professional or pharmacist for advice and assistance in determining the product’s legitimacy.