By George Landrith, President, Frontiers of Freedom • Newslooks
Counterfeit medications are pills that look like the real medication, but have different ingredients. Sometimes the counterfeit pills contain lethal amounts of fentanyl which is about 100 times more powerful than morphine and 50 times more powerful than heroin. Sometimes, they contain methamphetamine which is also extremely dangerous.
Other times, counterfeit medications contain no active ingredient or a “watered-down” amount of the active ingredient. While this isn’t necessarily as lethal as fentanyl, it is still a huge healthcare problem and puts lives at risk. Many medications help maintain life and so when the person taking the medication doesn’t actually receive the medication that they think they are taking because the pill is a counterfeit, it can endanger their health and their life.
Fake or counterfeit medications often contain concrete, mercury, arsenic, and even rat poison. And up to 170,000 children worldwide die each year from pneumonia because they are treated with antibiotics that turn out to be counterfeit and therefore do nothing to help them overcome the pneumonia and leaves them to die when they and their families think they’ve been treated with life saving medication — when, in fact, they’ve been treated with garbage fakes.
The majority of lethal counterfeit drugs come from China and Mexico. Fentanyl deaths are skyrocketing. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that fentanyl is now the top cause of death among US adults ages 18 to 45 — more than COVID-19, automobile accidents and more than suicide. Fentanyl is responsible for more than 70 percent of all drug deaths.
What makes it so tragic is that the vast majority of these deaths are not really overdose cases, they are poisoning cases and murder. If one accidentally or purposefully takes too much of a legitimate medication or an illicit drug, that would be classified as an overdose. But if one takes a pill believing it to be legitimate medication, but someone has laced the medication with poison which kills the patient, it is not an overdose. It is a poisoning and, therefore, it is a murder.
More often than not, it isn’t a bunch of people experimenting with dangerous and illegal substances. It is all too often someone who has purchased what they believed were a legitimate medication. It is packaged like the medication. The pill looks like the medication. But it isn’t the medication, and frequently it contains lethal levels of fentanyl. So one dosage can kill.
These counterfeit drugs are typically made in Mexico with pre-made chemicals and medications from China and then they are shipped across the wide-open border with drug mules who distribute them around the US. These counterfeit medications are effectively poison designed to look legitimate medications.
The fake pills are nearly identical to the actual prescription medications. The fake pills can look like Xanax, Adderall, and a wide variety of other medications — with the right color, shape and markings. So these pills are particularly dangerous because they look legitimate and real, but they all too often contain lethal amounts of fentanyl.
Fentanyl is deadly in as small a quantity as just the equivalent of a few grains of salt. These fake drugs are often sold online and via social media at sites that appear to be pharmacies — but, of course, they are not legitimate pharmacies. In Mexico, even some brick and mortar and licensed pharmacies sell counterfeit medications.
But even the counterfeit medications that do not contain fentanyl can be dangerous. Many have watered-down medication levels or no actual medication and are effectively placebos that will do nothing. If you’re taking lifesaving medication, this could also kill you.
But there are other dangers associated with counterfeit medications. They are typically produced in very unsafe environments without any quality control. No attention is given to safety or quality — all that matters is that the pill looks like it’s real.
Because counterfeit medications are designed to look like the real thing, you cannot trust their appearance or your ability to detect the difference. The best way to avoid counterfeit medications is to buy your medicine from a legitimate pharmacy.
In the US, we have a safe system of distribution so if you’re buying your medication from a legitimate pharmacy, your risk of getting counterfeit medication is effectively reduced to zero. Sometimes, the lower price of the bogus sources can be enticing, but when you consider the risks to your health and your life, it makes sense to deal with reputable and legitimate pharmacies. And we certainly shouldn’t make it easier for the counterfeiters to gain access to US markets.