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Beware of fake OTC meds

Manila Standard

The Food and Drug Administration has issued a timely and appropriate warning to the public against buying counterfeit over-the-counter medication manufactured by a local pharmaceutical company.

In two recent advisories, FDA Director General Samuel Zacate reported they found counterfeit versions of Kremil S, Alaxan FR, Biogesic, Medicol Advance, Bioflu and Tuseran Forte, all made by Unilab.

Kremil-S is used to relieve stomach pain due to hyperacidity; Alaxan FR, Biogesic and Medicol Advance are taken for headache and body pains, while Bioflu and Tuseran Forte are used to treat cough, colds, fever and other flu symptoms.

The FDA said in its advisory: “All health-care professionals and the general public are hereby warned as to the availability of these counterfeit drug products in the market, which pose potential danger or injury to consumers. Consumers are also reminded to purchase drug products only from FDA-licensed establishments.”

The sale of fake drugs is punishable under Republic Act 9711, or the FDA Act of 2009, and RA 8203, or the Special Law on Counterfeit Drugs.

Those found in possession of counterfeit medicines may face imprisonment of not less than six months and one day.

Unilab, the manufacturer of these brands of OTC medicines, warned that fake medicines and vitamins might contain dangerous substances like chalk, cornstarch, flour, pollen, rat poison, arsenic or even cement as a replacement for active ingredients of fake medications.

“Since most fake medications try to pass for genuine products, patients who try to ingest them may be at risk of failing to get the desired effects such as managing a symptom or treating an illness,” the company said.

Ingestion of toxic ingredients over an extended period of time can lead to serious health conditions, hospitalization or even death.

To identify fake medical products, the drug firm urged consumers to be on the alert for colors that may be too light, too dark or unusual compared with the real ones.

Counterfeit drugs may also have a different size or shape, an unusual smell, or have mold or dirt on them.

Other things to look out for are misspelled words or grammatical errors on the packaging or a missing expiry date and lot number.

The packaging and security seal may also be dirty, tampered with, damaged or printed using substandard materials.

Counterfeit drugs are reportedly sold in retail stores which usually do not have a license to sell medicines from the FDA.

The DILG has directed local governments, which are in charge of issuing business licenses to retail stores, to pass ordinances banning the sale of medications in such establishments nationwide.

The public should refrain from patronizing retail stores illegally selling fake drugs, including COVID-19 medication.

Forewarned is forearmed.

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