What you can do about counterfeit drugs


Watch what you take

  • Be familiar with your medicine. Examine its shape, color, and size.
  • If your medicine is in pill, capsule, or tablet form, put it in the palm of your hand and examine it under a light before taking it.
  •  Look for altered or unsealed packaging, or changes in design.
  • Ensure the packaging is pristine with no sticky residue, this may indicate the drug has been previously dispensed.

Observe Your Symptoms

  • Be aware of new or unusual side effects.
  • Be concerned if your medicine stops being effective.
  • Be suspicious if an injectable drug stings or causes a rash.

Talk to Your Pharmacist

  • He or she may have information from the manufacturer about legitimate changes in the shape, c0lor, or taste of a product.
  • He or she may know about suspicious characteristics that can help determine if a product is safe.

If You Think Your Medicine Is Counterfeit

  • Tell your pharmacist, your doctor, and the manufacturer. Most manufacturers have phone numbers or e-mail addresses for patients with questions and concerns.
  • You or your doctor should submit a report to the FDA on the MedWatch site. The form can be found here.
  • Once the form has been submitted, the FDA may contact you for more information. The FDA does not respond directly to each complaint of a suspected counterfeit.
  • Keep a sample of your medicine as evidence, even if the manufacturer asks you to send it back.

Other Advice

  • Buy only from a reputable and licensed seller. You can check credentials through your state pharmacy board or the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy at
  • If you are buying from an online pharmacy, look for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site (VIPPS) seal as proof that the site has met state and federal requirements. Approved internet pharmacies are posted here.

More Safety Tips

For the latest information on drug safety, visit: The Partnership for Safe Medicines. Register with the Partnership’s SafeMeds Alert System to receive email updates on counterfeits. Visit the FDA’s Counterfeit Drug Page for consumer information or Medwatch, the FDA’s reporting system for suspected counterfeits.