According to the World Health Organization, about eight percent of all drugs imported into the United States is "counterfeit, unapproved or substandard." As to who's buying them, look no further than those pharmaceutical spam emails that almost everyone ignores. Almost everyone.
Brian Krebs took a deep-dive into the illicit world of the counterfeit online pharmaceutical spam industry and what he came up with shocked even me. The Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies estimates that 30,000 to 40,000 websites are selling drugs at any given time.
Why does the organization give or take about 10,000 online drug marketplaces? Well, that's because only a tiny number of these pharmacies are actually legitimate.
That's right, the shadowy world of online pharmaceuticals make up the vast majority of Internet pharmacies. Most of their customers come from spam emails promising enhancement pills, generic versions of pricey drugs or any other number of lies.
The vast majority of the drugs supplies to rogue online pharmacies come from India. The country is one of the biggest distributors of legitimate generic medications. Most of these drugs, however, are coming from facilities that aren't approved by any of the drug manufacturers that their pills emulate.
India has an educated workforce and the means to produce a massive quantity of pills. According to Krebs, the problem is this:
The Western drugmakers who hold these patents have charged that by limiting them in specific cases and fostering the development of inexpensive, generic knockoffs, the Indian government and the pharmaceutical industry there are stifling innovation and reducing profits that are essential to continued research and development on lifesaving drugs. Indian drug companies say their practices ensure that poorer nations maintain affordable access to drugs for scourges like HIV and cancer.
How does all of this impact your life? Well, anyone who ends up buying counterfeit drugs risks their health.
The only way to stay safe is to learn how to spot and ignore dangerous spam emails. A safe basic assumption to make is that any drug-related emails that you receive are scams. If you want to save big on prescription drugs while still staying safe, this tip will lead you in the right direction.