According to the World Health Organization, worldwide sales of counterfeit medicines could top US$ 75 billion this year, a 90% rise in five years, according to an estimate published by the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest in the United States of America (USA). It is difficult to measure the extent of the problem when there are so many sources of information and different definitions of “counterfeit”. Sabine Kopp, IMPACT’s interim executive secretary and manager of WHO’s anti-counterfeiting programme, says that WHO is currently conducting a survey to compare legislation and terminology used to combat counterfeiting of medical products in different countries.
Medication Abortion, also known as medical Abortion or Abortion with pills, is a pregnancy termination protocol that involves taking two different drugs, Mifepristone and Misoprostol, that can be safely used up to the first 70 days (10 weeks) of pregnancy. Since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved the drug in 2000, its use in the United States has quickly grown, with over a third of Abortions at 8 weeks gestation or less being medication Abortions.
Fake Abortion pills have been seized in many parts of the world, accounting for a good percentage of seized counterfeit drugs after opioids and supplements. In 2009, 20 million pills, bottles, and sachets of counterfeit and illegal medicines were seized in a five-month operation coordinated by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) across China and seven of its south-east Asian neighbors; 33 people were arrested and 100 retail outlets closed.
Also last year, a series of raids in Egypt found counterfeit medicines worth hundreds of millions of dollars and exposed a criminal network feeding consumers across the Middle East. And in Europe, customs officers seized 34 million counterfeit pills in just two months.
There are also a lot of fake drugs on the African market.” Fake drugs make up 10 percent of Nigeria’s drug market, which is a recent improvement; fully 40 percent of drugs were counterfeit in 2001. And one of the problems with fake drugs is that people don’t know which medicines are legitimate, and so, accustomed to weak or ineffective drugs, some people take excessive doses to try to make sure the drug actually works. Read: Does Abortion Pills Damage the Womb
There are a lot of websites and online pharmacies that sell fake Abortion pills and medications. In Some countries like Brazil and elsewhere in South America, websites offer injections of “RU 486” or “mifepristone”. These injections are fake. Mifepristone/RU 486 is not available in injection form for humans. Beware of these sites – they are a fraud, could harm your health, and will not end your pregnancy.
How to Spot Abortion Pills Fake Vs Real
A consumer may not have access to most of the test equipment used by regulatory bodies to verify the identity of a drug product but here are simple guidelines that can help identify fake abortion pills;
Buy Abortion Pills Only From Registered/ Reputable outlets
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that there are many rogue online pharmacies that claim to sell prescription medicines at deeply discounted prices, often without requiring a valid prescription. These Internet-based pharmacies often sell unapproved or counterfeit medicines outside the safeguards followed by licensed pharmacies.
These rogue sites often prominently display a Canadian flag, but may actually be operated by criminals from the other side of the globe with no connection to Canada. Medicines bought from these websites can be dangerous and may put your health at risk.
How can you tell if an online pharmacy is operating legally? The FDA’s BeSafeRx can help you identify and avoid fake online pharmacies.
Signs of a Rogue Online Pharmacy
Beware of online pharmacies that:
- Allow you to buy prescription medicine without a valid prescription from your health care provider.
- Do not have a U.S. state-licensed pharmacist available to answer your questions.
- Offer very low prices that seem too good to be true.
- Send spam or unsolicited email offering cheap medicine.
- Are located outside of the United States or ship worldwide.
These pharmacies often sell medicines that can be dangerous because they may:
- Have too much or too little of the active ingredient you need to treat your disease or condition.
- Not contain the right active ingredient.
- Contain the wrong or other harmful ingredients.
The active ingredient is what makes the medicine effective for the illness or condition it is intended to treat. If a medicine has unknown active ingredients, it could fail to have the intended effect, could have an unexpected interaction with other medicines you are taking, could cause dangerous side effects, or may cause other serious health problems, such as serious allergic reactions.
Check the Abortion pill Packaging: This is the simplest and the easiest method to check the authenticity of abortion pills. Check the packaging for details like unusual fonts, print color, and missing logo. Analyze whether it appears the same or different from the one you have used before.
No Breakage in the Seal: An abortion pill packet that comes with a security seal should not be damaged. Look for a crack or breaks in the sealing tape.
Check the Abortion Pill Dosage Form: Look for dissimilarities in the physical appearance of the drug like its color, size, uniformity, consistency, shape, etc.
Physical Attributes of tablet: As stated by World Health Organization, the common physical attributes that need to be looked out in medicine tablets are;
- Small pieces of tablets, excessive powder at the bottom of the medicine container, or brittle and crumbly capsule spilling powder.
- Cracks in the tablets or capsules.
- The appearance of crystal on the container walls or on the medicine tablets.
- Softening or hardening of the medicines.
- Swelling, spots, or discoloration of the tablets or capsule.
Allergies / Unexpected Side Effects from using abortion pills: Most of the medicines including abortion have side effects. It is important to consult your doctor before using to keep a check on allergies arising from it. If you notice certain unexpected or harmful side effects from your medication, report to your doctor immediately.
Price of Abortion Pill: If the price of an abortion pill is suddenly far cheaper than the usual rate, double-check the product as there may be a chance that the fake companies wanted to lure customers by providing medicines at much cheaper rates.
Verify Online or SMS: Many countries have unique methods for the verification of the genuineness of pills using authentication codes or other online portals to confirm the authenticity of the pills being purchased. ALSO READ: Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Abortion Pill?