Is Your Doctor Giving You Fake Drugs?

It seems that even doctors can fall prey to the same counterfeit drug scams that have plagued consumers. We received an email today, which announced the FDA has launched a new website, warning health care professionals about a growing trend: Fake drug distributors.

“There is a growing network of rogue wholesale drug distributors selling potentially unsafe drugs in the U.S. market,” read the email. The new website,“Know Your Source,” advises healthcare professionals to only purchase  prescription drugs from licensed wholesale distributors.

Too little, too late?

FDA: Know your sourceWhile we applaud the efforts of the FDA to combat this problem – fake drugs undoubtedly pose a serious risk to patients – the problem is anything but new. In a letter dated December 19, 2012, the FDA notified medical practices they may have received unapproved medications. According to the FDA, “These medications may be counterfeit, contaminated, improperly stored and transported, ineffective, and/or unsafe.”

In fact, consumers have been warned about counterfeit drugs for years, with “Canadian” distributors at the forefront of the problem. So, how is it that doctors are unaware of these scams—many of which appear to be rather obvious. For example, one flyer on the website warns doctors to “Beware of Offers Too Good to be True” and that, “Aggressive marketing tactics and deep discounts on prescription drugs may indicate that the products are stolen, counterfeit, substandard, or unapproved.”

The FDA also shared these rather common-sense signs that a drug may be fake:

  • The label is not in English.
  • The packaging looks slightly different from the FDA-approved product
  • The product names differs from the name of the FDA-approved drug
  • The dosing recommendations are unfamiliar
  • Safety information or warnings are missing
  • The dosage form or administration is different

How can we, as consumers, protect ourselves?

When a doctor administers medication in the office, you probably won’t see the packaging. A nurse may hand you a pill or give you a shot. So how can you be sure they received the medicine from a reliable distributor? ASK.

Don’t be shy about asking your doctor questions regarding your medication

  • Ask where the medication came from. While it is not a guarantee, medicines are generally safe if your doctor purchased them directly from the manufacturer or a state-licensed wholesale drug distributor.
  • Ask for a copy of the package insert, detailing the possible side effects and other important safety information.
  • Tell your doctor if you experience unusual side effects or if the medication doesn’t seem to be working. These may be signs of counterfeit medication. 

Remember, while most prescription drugs in the United States are safe, it is important to be a vocal advocate for yourself and your loved ones.

 

 

Resources:

FDA warns doctors to beware fake drug distributorsModern Healthcare /Associated Press, September 23, 2104

The Possible Dangers of Buying Medicines over the Internet” FDA.gov, January 26, 2011.

Artificial Sweeteners Linked to Diabetes

Artificial Sweeteners Linked to DiabetesA new study indicates that using artificial sweeteners may actually raise blood sugar levels, increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Researchers in Israel have discovered that zero calorie sweeteners can affect the composition of intestinal microbes called “gut bacteria,” which can alter blood glucose levels.

The study, published in the journal of Nature suggests that long-term use of artificial sweeteners hampers the body’s ability to process natural sugar. Although the study was conducted primarily in mice, there were indications sweeteners would have a similar effect on gut bacteria in people.

According to The Wall Street Journal, 

The research shows that zero-calorie sweeteners such as saccharin, sucralose and aspartame can alter the population of gut bacteria and trigger unwanted changes such as higher blood glucose levels—a risk factor for diabetes. The provocative findings are likely to stoke the simmering controversy over whether artificial sweeteners help or hinder people’s ability to lose weight and lower the risk of diabetes and obesity.

While industry groups were quick to point out the limitations of the research, Eran Elinav, a physician and immunologist at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science and lead author of the study had a very different point of view. He said, “The scope of our discovery is cause for a public reassessment of the massive and unsupervised use of artificial sweeteners.”

Research regarding gut bacteria has gained more attention in recent years, but scientists still have a long way to go in understanding these vast, microscopic colonies. An article published in Scientific America estimates that, “these microbes outnumber our own cells 10 to one.”

 

Sources:

Naik, Gautam. “Research Shows Zero-Calorie Sweeteners Can Raise Blood SugarThe Wall Street Journal, September 17, 2014.

Wallis, Claudia. “How Gut Bacteria Help Make Us Fat and ThinScientific American, June 1, 2014.

What to Do After a Car Accident

Ohio personal injury attorney David J. Elk discusses what to do after a motor vehicle accident.

In the event you’ve been in an automobile or motorcycle accident, you may be wondering what to do next and how to protect yourself.

Download and print out a FREE Accident Checklist and keep it in your glove compartment. It includes 11 tips to follow and also provides space to take notes at the scene of the accident.

The most important thing you can do is to ensure that you and your loved ones seek immediate medical attention. Be aware that you may be injured even if you don’t feel hurt. The trauma of being involved in an accident can cause adrenaline to pump into your body, masking the pain. Many car accident victims do not feel their injuries right away and this is completely natural.

After serious injuries have been attended to, you should begin to gather evidence at the site of the crash. If it is safe to do so, use a camera or cell phone to take photographs of all vehicles involved in the accident. While it is best to take photographs before the vehicles are moved, be aware that you should never block traffic or put yourself or others in danger. When taking pictures, try to include angles that show damage to the vehicles.

You should also try to speak to anyone who witnessed the accident. Get their names and phone numbers so attorneys and insurance companies can contact them. Having a witness can be a big advantage, as they are generally unbiased parties and may help prove the other driver was at fault for your damages.

Your attorney may be able to get more information from surveillance video or audio equipment. Oftentimes, video from a traffic cam or a store security camera within the vicinity of the accident scene can be used. An experienced attorney can be an invaluable asset to you and your loved ones. He or she will have the knowledge and skills necessary to obtain just compensation from all negligent parties. Feel free to contact the offices of Elk & Elk if you have any questions regarding your accident.

To learn more about personal injury law, I encourage you to watch the video above and to explore our educational website at elkandelk.com. If you have legal questions, please call us at 1-800-ELK-OHIO. I welcome your call.

David J. Elk