Medicine Cabinet
Reiner W. Gloor

VARIOUS PHILIPPINE health, medical, and pharmaceutical groups, both in the public and private sectors, are working together to safeguard the country’s supply of medicines against the actual and potential threats of counterfeits.

Several weeks ago, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public warning on the availability in the local market of a fake variant of a children’s antibiotic.

The FDA also recalled a batch of a defective drug for the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis.

It similarly recalled from the market an imported drug for its inability and failure to meet standards and specifications of “ph and physical appearance.”

Why is there a need to be vigilant against counterfeit medicines?

In any form, counterfeit medicine is fake medicine. Both locally and internationally, faking of medicines is an alarming and grave threat to the health and safety of all people.

There are many variations of counterfeit medicine, including those containing the wrong ingredient or not containing the correct ingredient at all. Counterfeit medicine may also contain the right ingredient but at an improper dose.

In view of these factors, they are hazardous to people’s health and potentially lethal. Thus, fake medicines are illegal and unacceptable.

All Filipinos must do their share in protecting the sanctity of the country’s drug supply. Fake drugs must not be allowed to enter the country’s supply chain of genuine medicines.

The Philippines, through the FDA, a regulatory agency under the Department of Health, recently led the “National Consciousness Week Against Counterfeit Medicines” to highlight the “importance of citizen participation in the fight against fake medicines.”

The FDA, as the frontline agency in ensuring the safety, efficacy, and quality of medicines in the local market, fully grasps the enormity of the problems and issues surrounding counterfeit medicines.

Under Presidential Proclamation No. 2082 series of 2010, the third week of November of every year is the “National Consciousness Week against Counterfeit Medicines.” The theme for the 2015 celebration was “Mamamayan, Makialam, Pekeng Gamot Labanan (Citizens, get involved. Fight fake medicines).”

The FDA has even convened representatives of stakeholders to set up the “Coalition for Safe Medicines” to bolster and energize the campaign against fake medicines. The coalition hopes to undertake public information and advocacy campaigns, research and policy development, and other activities to jumpstart raising public awareness on counterfeit medicines. It seeks to conduct research relevant to strengthening the fight against counterfeit medicines and to initiate policy developments on these.

During the last several years, the FDA has had constant and active surveillance and collaboration with other government and private agencies, associations, and organizations, and intellectual property rights-holders to better combat the proliferation of counterfeit medicines.

Sadly however, despite the serious work of these stakeholders, the task of controlling and stopping counterfeit medicines from entering the drug supply chain is far from over. Counterfeit medicines are still able to enter the local market. Thus, the urgent task of focusing on the supply-side of the problem is not enough. There is an equally important and urgent need to tackle the demand-side of the situation.

This is where citizens’ participation comes into the picture. All citizens must understand that in their hands lie their own safety, and that there is crucial role for them to play in the battle against fake medicines.

They can report any suspected counterfeit or unregistered medicines at (02) 807-8275 or at Consumers are advised to purchase their medicines only from FDA-licensed establishments and to always ask for an official receipt. Consumers can also check the FDA website at for public health advisories on counterfeit or unregistered drug products. Consumers can report any suspected adverse drug reaction immediately to the FDA through by filling out all the required fields.

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Photo by ProjectManhattan, Wikimedia Commons