There are some basic guidelines that consumers should follow while buying medicine from their neighbourhood chemist, in order to avoid fake drugs.
Always insist on a proper, printed computerized bill, don’t settle for a scribbled bill on a piece of paper. It is harder to fabricate computer records, and proper bills can be tracked in case of problems.
Always ensure that the pharmacist signs the bill. This will reduce the possibility of school dropouts, who often work in chemist’s shops, handing out drugs. Many shops don’t even have a pharmacist on the floor or are operating under the name of someone who may not be around. Asking for the pharmacist under whose name the shop is operating, therefore, not only ensures proper control but also exposes unscrupulous shopkeepers.
Check if the bill has the same batch number, expiry date and price details as on the pack. Viraj Gandhi, chief executive with the drugstore chain, Medicine Shoppe, calls this checklist “Customer 101’’ and believes that “unless you are following some of these basic rules, you are putting yourself in a very vulnerable position.”
Discount-hunting instincts may get customers a s far as buying almost everything else is concerned, but it is a strict no-no in the case of medicines. Insisting on a discount amounts to encouraging the chemist to sell dubious products. Industry watchers believe that this might also push chemists towards procuring drugs cheap, and this creates a demand for spurious drugs and other substandard items.
A prescription drug should be bought only with a doctor’s prescription and you should buy only the brand the doctor has prescribed. Avoid substitutes suggested at the chemist’s counter.
This counter check is so obvious that most people just overlook it—always check the name of the drug as well as the manufacturing company’s name minutely for small changes in spellings. This will protect you from buying drugs with names that are deceptively similar to those marketed and sold under established brand names.