What are the risks of falsified medicines?

The composition of falsified medicines can be very different from genuine medicines. Falsified medicines are very likely to be of poor quality and unsafe. They can seriously damage your health, now or in the future.

On the outside, it’s often hard to spot falsified medicines. The packaging and pills can even fool experts. But fake medicines are made by unreliable producers. They do not follow standard quality procedures. This can lead to the following problems:

Too little, or too much, of the active ingredient

Many falsified medicines do contain the active ingredient, but in different quantities than stated on the packaging. So you won’t know if you’ve had too much or too little. The dose may be too low or too high. Both can seriously damage your health. You may not recognise the effects of an incorrect dose. These effects may occur in the short or long term.

Real medicines must pass rigorous safety checks and comply with European legislation. For instance, the amount of active ingredient in the medicine may not be more than 5% lower or higher than the dose stated on the packaging. No such checks are carried out on falsified medicines.

Harmful substances

Fake medicines can contain substances that are not mentioned on the packaging. They may contain cheaper active ingredients that have roughly the same effect, but different possible side-effects. Even if you don’t notice anything right away, taking these pills could be harmful to your health in the long term. Some fake pills even contain toxic substances.