by Dr. Iain Corness
Are cheap drugs really a bargain?
The Thai community must be very poorly.
Well, if you go by the number of pharmacies in my street, you would imagine
so. The only businesses with more outlets are beauty salons and massage
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?
A big money spinner are the drugs which can keep you in a state of perpetual
priapism, a continuing (and painful) male erection and the term was coined
after the Greek god Priapus who is shown in paintings to have a central
member like a third leg.
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
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 misspelled literature with their
Eli Lilly’s website on Cialis confirms that there is fake Cialis in the
marketplace. The website suggests you ask yourself these questions; any
“yes” answers could mean that the Cialis being sold may be fake:
Is the price so much lower than the price at the hospital pharmacy that it
seems too good to be true?
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”
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. If specific drugs are only
available through pharmacies, on the prescription of a doctor, is it safe to
just buy over the counter (or the internet), without any doctor’s advice?
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
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 you receive a spam e-mail from someone who you don’t know, offering you
specific pharmaceuticals at a cheap price, that should be enough for you to
go no further. 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 big pharmacy you can
trust. Or suffer the consequences - which can be quite catastrophic if you
are diabetic, for example.