Helping to Lower the Risk of Tainted Prescription Drugs

portrait of a man in the pharmacy

(DGIwire) — Point, click, purchase: people do it all the time for books, plane tickets and just about everything in between. Many also now buy their prescription drugs online through a national pharmacy chain or mail-order program offered by their health insurance provider. The challenge is the host of illegitimate sites that are selling prescription medications under false pretenses. Consequently, there is no way to know if the medicine one receives is contaminated, sub-potent, too potent or expired, and whether it has been stored and shipped under proper conditions to maintain its effectiveness.

Being selective about which websites we use might wind up saving our lives. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, these are eight things consumers can do to protect themselves while also saving time and money:

1. Only buy from state-licensed pharmacy websites located in the U.S.

2. Don’t buy from websites that sell prescription drugs without a prescription.

3. Don’t buy from websites that offer to prescribe a drug for the first time without a physical exam by a doctor or by having users answer an online questionnaire.

4. Check with a state pharmacy board or the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy to see if an online pharmacy has a valid pharmacy license and meets state quality standards.

5. Look for privacy and security policies that are easy to find and understand.

6. Don’t give out personal information such as Social Security number, credit card numbers or health history unless the website will keep the data safe and private.

7. Use legitimate websites that have a licensed pharmacist to answer questions.

8. Make sure the website won’t sell personal information unless users agree.

Unfortunately, even the most vigilant safeguards are often insufficient. This is due to the manufacturing of drugs by increasingly sophisticated counterfeiters able to reproduce medications, packaging and even security holograms virtually indistinguishable from the genuine ones.

That’s where one company, Stony Brook, NY-based Applied DNA Sciences, is swiftly stepping up to the plate by offering a bold new weapon for fighting such crimes at their source. Using DNA as a forensic foundation, the company creates unique security solutions to detect counterfeit materials. Their SigNature® DNA product is derived from plant DNA, and can track and help convict criminals by embedding a marking into ink, varnish, fabric, laminates, paper, metal coatings, etc.

In pharmaceuticals, the product is technically capable of authenticating medicines by embedding a mark on packaging, or at the dosage level (individual pill).

Dr. James A. Hayward, President and CEO of Applied DNA Sciences: “Our technology can help protect companies in a wide range industries from the risks that are involved in selling counterfeit products to their customers.”

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