Psst! Want some cheap blue diamonds?

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There has been much finger pointing at private hospitals in the past couple of weeks regarding pharmacy prices, from people who, quite frankly, do not take a wide enough view.

Pharmaceuticals cost millions of dollars before they are passed for human consumption. Laboratory research is costly, and testing is even more costly. And sometimes that testing shows that this new drug should not be released. It may do the job asked of it, but the side effect profile is too dangerous. Back to square one and start again! More expense.

However, “copy” drugs are really the result of stealing. The chemical in the drug is reproduced by chemical laboratories, and sold in the open market. No research costs, no testing costs. If copy drugs become the norm, then why should an original research company bother manufacturing new (and better) drugs?

On another tack, how many pharmacies on your street? With so many pharmacies, the only way they can compete with each other is on price. So where do they get cheaper drugs in the first place?

Cheap pills for Erectile Dysfunction (ED) that seem too good to be true, are usually just that – too good to be true! The chances are very high that they are counterfeit.

One of the patients showed me a box purporting to be genuine brand name Cialis tablets, which were not having the desired effect. I was immediately suspicious as the box was not all that well printed. I was quite sure they were counterfeit when I read the Patient Information slip. The English grammar was incorrect, and there were spelling mistakes. Eli Lilly, the ‘real’ manufacturer does not send out mis-spelled literature with their product.

Eli Lilly’s website on Cialis confirms that there is fake Cialis in the marketplace. The website suggests you ask yourself these three questions; any “yes” answer could mean that the Cialis being sold may be fake:

1. Is the price so much lower than the price at the hospital pharmacy that it seems too good to be true?

2. Does the pharmacy offer “soft tab” or “fast dissolve” Cialis? (Cialis only comes in tablets. There is no such thing as “soft tab” or “fast dissolve” Cialis)

3. Does your local pharmacy offer “generic Cialis” or a drug with a name that is similar to Cialis? (Such products have not have been evaluated by the FDA for safety and effectiveness – they could be harmful.)

The World Health Organization puts the annual amount of counterfeit drugs sales at something like $35-40 billion per year. No wonder I (and you) get so many offers of drugs through the internet. That’s a very large pie.

The World Health Organization also estimates that one in three drugs on the worldwide market today is counterfeit. Sometimes the fake drugs contain toxic substances from which you can die.

Pfizer’s laboratories analyze the fakes and a representative stated, “We’ve seen boric acid, we’ve seen heavy metals, we’ve seen road paint, we’ve also seen floor wax to coat the pills and give them a shine. Obviously, they are detrimental to anyone’s health.”

It is not just Eli Lilly that is targeted. Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer (yes chaps, the makers of the Blue Diamonds of happiness) estimates its annual losses to counterfeit drug sales at $2 billion.

However, this is actually a serious situation. The American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says, “Patients who buy prescription drugs from websites operating outside the law are at increased risk of suffering life-threatening adverse events, such as side effects from inappropriately prescribed medications, dangerous drug interactions, contaminated drugs, and impure or unknown ingredients found in unapproved drugs.”

According to WHO, drugs commonly counterfeited include antibiotics, antimalarials, hormones, anti-diabetic medications and steroids. Increasingly, anticancer and antiviral drugs are also faked. And you can add to that, the ‘Blue Diamonds’ and all of the Indian knock-offs. Never forget the phrase “Caveat emptor” (Let the buyer beware).

If your local pharmacies will offer you ‘name brand’ medication that is supposedly prescription only at a very cheap price, that should ring alarm bells in your head too.

Get your medications on a doctor’s prescription from a pharmacy you can trust. Or suffer the consequences.