A 32-year veteran of the agency, John P. Leonard, told AARP that the two main drugs seized at ports of entry are Viagra and Cialis. “They’re the biggest,” says Leonard, the agency’s # 2 sales manager.
Some $ 16.3 million in counterfeit ED drugs were confiscated by CBP in the 12 months ended September 30, and counterfeit ED drugs accounted for about 80 cents on every dollar of fake products pharmaceuticals seized. Vardenafil, Levitra, Staxyn, Sildenafil, Tadalafil, Avanafil and Stendra were also confiscated. Other types of drugs seized include fake Botox treatments and fake drugs for cancer, cholesterol issues and depression.
For crooks, says Leonard, “it’s just a way to make money.”
A handbag can’t hurt you
“The difference with pharmaceuticals, as opposed to buying a fake Fendi or Louis Vuitton bag, is that you are talking about your health,” he cautions.
Counterfeits vary. Some do not have active ingredients or the incorrect amounts. Some have the correct quantities but dummy packaging. Some contain high levels of impurities and contaminants. Others are illicit copies of the real thing.
In the early 1990s, the Internet was relatively new to the general public. The web has been a game-changer, as the World Health Organization observed in 2018: “With the exponential increase in Internet connectivity, those involved in the manufacture, distribution and delivery of quality medical products inferior and falsified have gained access to a global market. “
The explosion of social media posts has compounded the problem. So buyer beware of fake drugs and suspicious websites, texts and pop-up ads touting pharmaceuticals.
AARP hotline hears about scams
Meanwhile, the AARP Fraud Watch Network helpline, 877-908-3360, answered calls from consumers who thought they were buying enhancement pills or supplements and were defrauded. They included a man who responded to an ad for a product for $ 4.95 and was billed $ 89 for a second bottle. He tried to complain, but the seller’s phone number was disconnected. Another man thought he was paying around $ 16 for shipping an upgrade supplement, but a charge of $ 190 appeared on his credit card.
Here are some tips for avoiding counterfeits:
• A low price doesn’t mean it’s smart to buy something.
• Consumers should be aware that sellers of counterfeit products also create false customer reviews.
• The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NAPB) has a website to check if an online pharmacy is safe. Legitimate NABP verified sites have “.pharmacy” at the end of their web addresses.
• E-mails stating that free or low-cost prescription drugs are available over the phone are likely scams, the Federal Trade Commission warns. The same is true of sites to visit a website for “free” prescription drugs for a fee.
• Finally, the Food and Drug Administration has a campaign and a video with helpful tips.