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Tips when buying medicines

Treating yourself with medicines is a responsible act, Beware of fake drugs

Counterfeit medicines exist; they deliver false information about their composition and/or their real source.
The deliberate and fraudulent practice of counterfeiting can apply to both brand name and generic products.
Counterfeit drugs are illegal, they may be ineffective or even toxic and may be harmful to your health.

A few simple precautions... General advice

Before you get any new medicine for the first time, talk to a health care professional such as your doctor or pharmacist
Any time you get a prescription refilled

  • Check the physical appearance of the medicine (color, texture, shape, and packaging)
  • Check to see if it smells and tastes the same when you use it
  • Alert your pharmacist or your doctor if you have any doubt on counterfeiting (packaging defect, side effect…)
  • A very low drug price may be a warning of a fake drug; stay on your guard and compare prices.
  • If you suffer any severe and/or unusual secondary effects, you may be using a counterfeit drug, talk to a doctor.

Be aware, when buying medicines on the Internet (when allowed in your country)

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There are many websites that operate legally and offer convenience, privacy, and safeguards for purchasing medicines. But there are also many “rogue websites” that offer to sell potentially dangerous drugs that have not been checked for safety or effectiveness. Though a rogue site may look professional and legitimate, it could actually be an illegal operation.
These rogue sites often sell counterfeit medicines which

  • may be not approved by your National Health Agency
  • may not answer to safe standards
  • may interfere with other of your medicines
  • may not be labeled, stored, or shipped correctly

Advice when buying medicines on the Internet

  • Don't buy from websites that sell prescription drugs without a prescription.
  • Don't buy from websites that offer to prescribe a drug for the first time without a physical exam by your doctor or by answering an online questionnaire.
  • Check with your state board of pharmacy to see if an online pharmacy has a valid pharmacy license and meets state quality standards.
  • Look for privacy and security policies that are easy to find and easy to understand.
  • Don't give any personal information—such as a social security number, credit card information, or medical or health history—unless you are sure the website will keep your information safe and private.
  • Use legitimate websites that have a licensed pharmacist to answer your question.

Advice when traveling abroad

  • Prepare a travel medical kit suitable for your destination.
  • Take the quantity of drugs you need for the entire length of your trip.
  • Take your medical prescriptions with you (ask for the names of the molecules and the manufacturer’s name) and keep them with you in your carry-on luggage (you may be asked for them at borders).
  • Only buy your medicines through a legal channel.

Abnormally low prices, unusual packaging, shape or color of the medicine may point to a counterfeit product.

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  • Make sure you abide by the conditions of storage for the drugs to ensure that they remain stable and effective (e.g. do not expose them to over-high temperatures).
  • When you are buying drugs, make sure that the packaging is undamaged and that there are no visible anomalies on the box, in the instructions for use, the blister pack, or in the drugs themselves.


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