Counterfeit drugs are a significant threat to public health. In most studies of the content of counterfeit drugs, the counterfeit product does not contain the amount or type of drug claimed by the product packaging. In many cases, the counterfeit drug contains pharmacological substances not named by the product’s packaging, some of which are illegal and dangerous. Deaths and serious illnesses have been caused by the presence of unnamed pharmacological products in counterfeit drug products. It is impossible for a patient or a healthcare practitioner to know whether or not the stated content of a counterfeit drug is accurate or whether dangerous substances have been added to a product.
Physicians have a role to play in patient education about counterfeit drugs. Because of the risk of serious illness or death, physicians should warn patients not to use counterfeit drugs of any type. Patients should obtain medications only from a reputable pharmacy. It is unethical for physicians to condone the use of counterfeit drugs, including PDE5-inhibitors, in any circumstances.