SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – The internet has become a shopping outlet for medications without a prescription, but health organizations warn that many of those drugs can be counterfeit and even dangerous.
Ed Low, a U.S. Customs Border Protection Officer, said counterfeit prescription drugs are seen arriving at the San Francisco International Airport on a daily basis. His unit finds and confiscates drugs advertised as treatments for a variety of serious medical conditions.
Some of the most common imitation drugs include fake Viagra, Cialis, penicillin, valium, and even clothing soaked in opium. Other counterfeit drugs include treatments for cholesterol, arthritis and AIDS.
According to UCSF Dr. Cathi Dennehy, consumers buying discounted drugs from the internet could be in danger.
“[An] untreated health condition is probably the most serious thing that I would worry about and interactions with medications,’ she said.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 50 percent of counterfeit drugs don’t include the proper ingredients, which could cause serious side effects. The WHO also estimates about 10 percent of drugs world wide may be counterfeit.
For fiscal year 2010, Low said border patrol agents confiscated over 3 million units of counterfeit prescription drugs.