7 Ways to Avoid Fake Medications

Fake medications

This is all counterfeiters are after. Your health is of no concern to them.

Counterfeiters ply their trade whenever and wherever they stand to make the most money for the least effort.

Often this involves making fake luxury goods like handbags and jewelry, but pharmaceuticals are also favorites of counterfeiters. Drugs that men take to address erectile dysfunction, such as Viagra and Cialis are in some ways perfect targets for knock-off artists. They’re wildly popular, fairly expensive, and they treat a condition many men are still uncomfortable discussing with their physicians.

With bogus medications, the danger is far greater than simply spending money on a worthless product. In fact, many knock-offs contain active ingredients that may have nothing to do with the condition being treated, and serious illness and death can result. For example, a batch of fake Viagra in 2008 in Singapore resulted in several deaths and coma cases, and over 150 hospital admissions due to the presence of glibenclamide, a drug diabetics take to lower blood sugar. How can you make sure you don’t buy bogus erectile dysfunction (or other) drugs? Here are 7 ways to protect yourself.

1. Be an Expert on the Drugs You Take Regularly

Detailed knowledge about drugs you take regularly is a smart safety precaution. Of course, it will take time to develop expertise on what pills look like, what words are printed on them, and how they’re packaged. But learning what the genuine article looks, smells, and tastes like can help you out later. For example, if your medication is normally sold in a blister pack, yet someone is trying to sell it to you in a bottle, make sure the manufacturer indeed packages the drug in a bottle before ordering or buying the medication. Make note of what the texture of the genuine medication feels like on your fingers and tongue, and don’t hesitate to call your pharmacist if something seems “off.” Pharmacists can tell you which packaging forms are legitimate and which are not.

2. Contact the Manufacturer to Confirm Lot Numbers

You should find lot or batch numbers printed on the packaging of your medication. Be wary if you can’t find such a number. You can contact the drug manufacturer (Pfizer in the case of Viagra) and learn whether the lot number printed on your medication’s packaging is a legitimate one. In some cases, drug counterfeiters create a fake batch number and use it repeatedly. Real manufacturers retire batch numbers regularly, and it would be difficult for makers of knock-offs to learn which batch numbers were in use on the day you placed your order. If you have questions about lot or batch numbers and whether they’re for real, you can ask your pharmacist, or contact the drug’s real manufacturer to learn which of these numbers are fake.

3. Avoid Buying from Non-US Websites

Are there reputable online pharmacies in countries other than the US? Of course there are. People all over the world love the convenience of shopping online. And yes, Viagra has generic competitors in a number of countries, which has led to lower prices there. But importing prescription drugs into the US, except for under very strict conditions, is illegal. There’s also the very real possibility that a shipment from overseas will be detained by US Customs and Border Protection, in which case you may or may not ever receive your shipment. Make sure you’re appropriately wary of drug websites claiming to be Canadian. They know that people in the US sometimes go to Canada and purchase prescription drugs, and tend to reflexively trust Canadian companies. However, covering a website with Maple Leaf flags is no guarantee the site is actually located in Canada.

4. Evaluate Overall Website Quality

You also want to take in overall website quality. Does it look “slapped together,” or like one of the eyesore websites you had to put up with in the early days of the web? Are words (particularly drug names) misspelled on the site? Does the text look like it came from Google Translate and not an actual human? These are all signs that a vendor is ready to cut every corner to maximize profits, including the corner of substituting false products for real ones. You should also be aware that just because a site has everything spelled correctly and is well designed, that doesn’t mean it’s reputable or that you won’t get counterfeit products. Makers of bogus pharmaceuticals will sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to make their operations appear authorized.

5. Check Out the Website’s Customer Service Line

You should be able to speak with a pharmacist, either by phone, by email, or through live chat. Before ordering medications from an online provider, contact the customer service number and ask a question about the medication, like which medications it interacts with. This can let you know that the company at least answers the phone, and can show you how easy or hard a time you’ll have with customer support representatives. Check where the customer support phone number is hosted and if possible, match it to a street address for the provider you want to buy from.

6. Don’t Let a Terrific Price Cloud Your Better Judgment

When all the pharmacies where you check prices are selling Viagra for around $30 per tablet, and you see a place selling it for $5 per tablet, you want to believe it’s real. It isn’t. Prices may vary some among bricks-and-mortar pharmacies, among online pharmacies, and between online and offline sources. But prices won’t be drastically different.

If you see a website offering Viagra or some other drug at a price that is completely out of line with everywhere else you’ve looked, expect their products to be counterfeit or expect not to receive anything after giving them your payment information. You simply won’t find erectile dysfunction medications this inexpensive, particularly in the US, where generics aren’t yet on the market to bring prices down.

Fake medications

Prices may vary some, but Viagra at a few dollars per pill is inevitably phony.

7. Don’t Believe Sites Saying You Don’t Need a Prescription

Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra are all prescription medications. Any website that offers them “over the counter,” particularly at an attractive price, is peddling bogus products. These medications require a prescription for a reason, and in the US, no over-the-counter versions of these products are available, though some manufacturers are exploring the possibility of making some of them available over the counter eventually. You would naturally be skeptical if someone tried to sell you, say, an antibiotic like ciprofloxacin without a prescription. Just because erectile dysfunction medications are considered lifestyle-enhancing medications doesn’t make their prescription-only status any less valid.

Wherever you obtain prescription medications from, it’s wise to understand the drugs and their qualities, what they’re supposed to look like, and how the genuine products affect you. The US Food and Drug Administration and US Customs and Border Protection do their best to keep counterfeit drugs of all kinds out of the country, but there’s only so much they can do. And counterfeiters can, of course, operate within the US as well. Taking multiple steps to protect yourself from bogus medications is the wisest course of action, because outfits that make phony drugs are willing to go to great lengths to convince customers they’re not forgeries. is located in the United States, and works with pharmacists licensed in the US to dispense Viagra and other prescription lifestyle medications. We take great care to ship our more than half-a-million customers the genuine product made by the manufacturer, and every product comes with batch information that can be confirmed with manufacturers. Our goal is to provide every customer with competitive pricing, fast shipping, and the best possible customer experience with every order. We encourage you to thoroughly educate yourself on erectile dysfunction if you’re considering trying prescription medication for it.

Don Amerman has spent more than three decades in the business of writing and editing. During the last 15 years, his focus has been on freelance writing. For almost all of his writing, He has done all of his own research, both online and off, including telephone and face-to-face interviews where possible. Don Amerman on Google+