Counterfeiting of medicines is a serious and growing problem around the world. Counterfeit medicines can be harmful and even fatal to patients.
While the total incidence of counterfeit medicines sold in ‘brick and mortar’ pharmacies in the U.S. is estimated to be less than 1 percent of total market value, the World Health Organization estimates that over 50 percent of medicines purchased from Internet sites without a physical address are counterfeit.
Preventing counterfeiting of our medicines, wherever it may occur, and ensuring the integrity of our medicines throughout the manufacturing and supply process is an important part of our commitment to patient safety. It also helps us to protect our reputation and maintain public confidence in healthcare systems.
We work both within AstraZeneca and together with other pharmaceutical companies, governments, law enforcement agencies and health care professionals to prevent and detect counterfeiting.
Our approach includes:
- Improving security to prevent counterfeit products from entering the supply chain
- Making it easier to identify counterfeit products
- Raising awareness among law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders
- Investigating suspected cases and seeking prosecution of counterfeiters
- Lobbying for stronger anti-counterfeiting regulations and penalties
What to do if you have a concern
If you have a concern, you should contact your physician, pharmacist or other health care professional.
In the U.S., you can also contact the AstraZeneca Information Center by phone: 1-800-236-9933 Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. ET, excluding holidays or through our online form.
AstraZeneca urges patients and healthcare professionals to be alert to the possibility of counterfeiting. Patients can protect themselves from the risks associated with counterfeit drugs by obtaining all prescription and over-the-counter medications from regulated licensed pharmacies. They should be vigilant when examining their medications, paying attention to altered or unsealed packaging or changes in the product packaging.
Patients should be especially vigilant with products obtained on the internet. The World Health Organization estimates that over 50 percent of medicines purchased from internet sites without a physical address are counterfeit.
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy has created the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) program, which accredits virtual pharmacies that comply with state licensing and inspection requirements and additional criteria. More information about VIPPS accredited pharmacies is available on their website: http://vipps.nabp.net/