Counterfeit versions the influenza medication Tamiflu are being sold, according to reports, and the result could be an even more deadly flu season, says one of the nation’s top doctors.
“Counterfeit drugs are a huge problem in third world countries, but now we are finding them in the U.S. and, in the case of Tamiflu, this could result in death,” warns Chauncey Crandall, M.D., director of preventative cardiology and clinical medicine at the Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic in Jupiter, Fla.
Federal government officials said they have launched an investigation into the sale of fake flu drugs labeled as “generic Tamiflu.” Tamiflu does not come in a generic version in the U.S. However, India and several other countries do allow the sale of generic Tamiflu.
Tamiflu can shorten the duration of the flu, and it is also of critical importance in people who are elderly or have compromised immune system because they are the ones who are most at risk of a developing life-threatening pneumonia, said Dr. Crandall, author of the Heart Health Report newsletter.
Numerous studies have shown that Tamiflu is effective in reducing the risk from pneumonia and respiratory failure, especially when taken within 48 hours of symptoms.
“This is a huge problem that is becoming bigger. The labeling and marketing of these drugs is becoming more and more sophisticated. People are ordering them online from pharmacies in England and Canada and do not realize the risk they are taking,” Dr. Crandall told Newmax Health.
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Dr. Crandall urges people to buy only brand-name medications and get their prescriptions filled at their local pharmacy or from state-licensed mail-order services.
If you order online, Genetech, the company that manufactures Tamiflu, urges these safeguards:
• Look for the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites, or VIPPS, seal on the website. This is a voluntary program from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy that verifies the legitimacy of Internet sites dispensing pharmacy drugs
• Be wary if there is no way to contact the website pharmacy by phone.
• Beware of advertisements or websites and emails that ask you to waive your legal rights in order to participate in their prescription program.
If you believe you have been sold fake Tamiflu, contact the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations by calling 1 (800) 551-3989 or by visiting www.fda.gov/OCI.
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