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Customs: Amount of Fake Medications Being Shipped Is Climbing

Customs sees an increase in the amount of fake pills being shipped from overseas.

Customs sees an increase in the amount of fake pills being shipped from overseas.

It’s estimated that 5 percent of the mail coming into the U.S. contains something illegal. While most people assume drugs like marijuana and cocaine are the biggest problem, customs agents say otherwise. An increasing amount of fake pharmaceuticals, meant to mimic legal American drugs like Viagra and Cialis, are the biggest problem.

Tough to spot a fake

It’s become such a problem, companies like Pfizer, the maker’s of Viagra, have hired people to help law enforcement agents spot fakes. “The counterfeiters are getting really good at making these look just about identical to the real products,” said Matthew Bassiur, vice president of global security for Pfizer. “We have to bring it back to our laboratories to test it and find out whether it’s authentic product.”

Bassiur says too many people are finding rogue sites that sell pharmaceuticals. The sites look legitimate, but most of the time the medications contain ingredients that don’t work or are harmful to one’s health.

“They are going to counterfeit anything if they think they can sell it and make money,” Marvin Shepherd, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin School of Pharmacy tells Los Angeles Daily News. “That’s the way it is. They are greedy people. They don’t care about your life. All they do is care about your credit card number and getting the product sold.”

Prescriptions can be obtained through trusted online sources like eDrugstore.com

Prescriptions can be obtained through trusted online sources like eDrugstore.com

More enforcement needed

Officials believe more needs to be done to stop the inflow of fake medications to the U.S.

“We need better law enforcement to detect and prosecute all those who make, package, market or transport fake drugs,” Lawrence Gostin, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center and an authority on illegal drugs said.

“Currently, law enforcement is poor. The penalties are usually very low. Police also often give this area a low priority. Finally, it is a transnational problem, so we need a treaty or some other international agreement to strengthen law enforcement and customs controls.”

eDrugstore.com supports these efforts. As an online facilitator of prescription medications, eDrugstore.com works with licensed pharmacies and sells only FDA approved medications.

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