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Counterfeit drugs: a serious health threat

Published:Wednesday | October 2, 2013 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

We refer to the article in The Gleaner of September 21: 'Customs warns public to be vigilant when purchasing pharmaceuticals' following the recent seizure of counterfeit pharmaceutical products by the Jamaica Custom Agency (JCA).

The Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica (PSJ) commends the JCA for its continued vigilance in locating and confiscating these items which pose a potentially serious health threat.

A counterfeit drug is fake medication which is produced and sold with the intent to deceive the public as to its origin, authenticity or effectiveness. These drugs are illegal and unsafe. They may contain inappropriate quantities of active ingredients, or none at all. They may also contain harmful ingredients or may not be able to be properly processed by the body.

Many counterfeit drugs are visually indistinguishable from authentic drugs. They are packaged and labelled to look genuine and chemical analysis may be required to distinguish fake from genuine products.

The Ministry of Health regulates the importation and sale of medications in the island. This ensures that medications are from legitimate sources and conform to approved quality standards. Generic and branded drugs are subject to the same regulations by the ministry.

The quality of medications that consumers purchase in Jamaica through legitimate suppliers, therefore, remains high and the public can feel assured that medications purchased through the legal channels are safe and effective.

The PSJ condemns the illegal and dangerous act of selling counterfeit drugs as these products pose a potentially serious health threat. The public is urged to always obtain their medicines from licensed pharmacies.

CHRISTOPHER CURTIS

President, PSJ

psja@cwjamaica.com