LONDON, March 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Counterfeit medicine is posing an increasing risk to the publics' health as the amount being sold online and through other sources grows internationally, according to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

In an effort to raise public awareness of fake medicine and its dangers, the RPSGB and MHRA have teamed up to produce new patient guidance, which will be issued to all pharmacies in Great Britain over the next two months.

Developed in conjunction with patient groups to ensure it is clear and easy to read, pharmacies will be asked to distribute the guidance to patients in their prescription bags.

The new double-sided postcard-sized leaflet offers practical advice to patients about what counterfeit medicine means, how to minimise purchasing fakes and what to do if they suspect they have been sold or supplied counterfeits. One side of the postcard explains the safest way to purchase medicines and the other outlines 'The dangers of faking it'.

The RPSGB's Head of Practice, Heidi Wright, says: Counterfeit medicine does not work and can make you seriously ill.

It's important that people are aware that they should always get their medicine from a reputable source such as a pharmacist or a registered online pharmacy site which has the RPSGB's Internet Pharmacy Logo* - and I hope these postcards will help to achieve that.

The MHRA is also looking at ways to target those that use the internet to buy counterfeit medicine.

Mick Deats, Group Manager of Enforcement at the MHRA said, The MHRA will not hesitate to take action against those who undermine public health. There is considerable risk to the public from obtaining medicines through unregulated websites.

The new patient postcards complement updated guidance for pharmacists and dispensing doctors which was produced in February in collaboration with the RPSGB, MHRA and the Dispensing Doctor's Association (DDA).

Counterfeit medicines: Guidance for pharmacists explains the background to counterfeit medicine production and highlights how organised criminal gangs have become involved in the production of illegal medicines, supplying them through the internet, often to unwitting patients. It offers pharmacists invaluable practical advice on the correct steps to take when they encounter suspected counterfeit medicines. These steps include reporting illegal websites to the MHRA to ensure immediate patient safety.

Counterfeit medicines: Guidance for pharmacists is available to download from the RPSGB website

For further information on counterfeit medicine visit the MHRA's website at

Notes to Editors

A pdf of the new patient leaflet is available.

*The Internet Pharmacy Logo was launched by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain in January 2008, to help the public identify if a website is being operated by a bona fide pharmacy in Britain. More information is available at

The RPSGB advises members of the public to make other checks in addition to looking for the Internet Pharmacy Logo when buying medicines online. These include:

- Checking the registration status of the pharmacist - Looking for the name and address of the pharmacy operating the website (it should be connected to a bricks and mortar pharmacy). - Avoiding websites that offer to supply prescription-only medicines without a prescription - Whether you are asked questions before purchasing your medicine (registered pharmacies are required to check that a medicine is suitable for a patient to use before selling it)

About the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) is the professional and regulatory body for pharmacists in England, Scotland and Wales. It also regulates pharmacy technicians on a voluntary basis, which is expected to become statutory under anticipated legislation. The primary objectives of the RPSGB are to lead, regulate, develop and represent the profession of pharmacy.

The RPSGB leads and supports the development of the profession within the context of the public benefit. This includes the advancement of science, practice, education and knowledge in pharmacy. In addition, it promotes the profession's policies and views to a range of external stakeholders in a number of different forums. Following the publication in 2007 of the Government White Paper Trust, Assurance and Safety - The Regulation of Health Professionals in the 21st Century, the RPSGB is working towards the demerger of its regulatory and professional roles. This will see the establishment of a new General Pharmaceutical Council and a new professional body for pharmacy in 2010. For further information visit:

About the MHRA

The MHRA is the government agency responsible for ensuring that medicines and medical devices work, and are acceptably safe. No product is risk-free. Underpinning all our work lie robust and fact-based judgements to ensure that the benefits to patients and the public justify the risks. We keep watch over medicines and devices, and take any necessary action to protect the public promptly if there is a problem. We encourage everyone -the public and healthcare professionals as well as the industry - to tell us about any problems with a medicine or medical device, so that we can investigate and take any necessary action.

For media enquiries please contact the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain's Public Relations Unit +44(0)20-7572-2476

For media enquiries please contact the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain's Public Relations Unit +44(0)20-7572-2476.