LONDON, April 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Pharmacies across Great Britain should look out for new patient guidance on counterfeit medication and its dangers which will be delivered from May 2009.

The two sided postcard sized leaflet has been produced by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPSGB) and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to encourage patients to access medicines in the safest way.

Pharmacists are being asked to distribute the postcards to patients in prescription bags, targeting those taking specific products that have been previously counterfeited for UK sale. These are;

- erectile dysfunction products: Viagra, Cialis and Levitra - slimming products: Reductil and Xenical - recalled products since 2005: Lipitor, Zyprexa, Plavix and Casodex

The new leaflet offers advice to patients about what counterfeit medication is, how to minimise the risk of purchasing fakes and what to do if they suspect they have been sold or supplied counterfeit medication.

The RPSGB's Head of Practice, Heidi Wright, says: Counterfeit medicine may sometimes be cheaper but it is not worth risking your life or health for.

We urge pharmacies to help us keep their patients informed of the safest way to obtain medicine by inserting this leaflet with certain patients' prescriptions. The aim is to discourage people from buying medicines from an un-reputable source in future.

Mick Deats, Group Manager of Enforcement at the MHRA said, People can be at considerable risk if they buy medicines from illegal websites. A medicine bought in this way has no guarantee that it is safe or that it is effective and can in fact be harmful.

Our message is simple - do not buy prescription-only medicines over the internet without a prescription and if you are illegally selling or supplying medicines, we will use all appropriate measures available to stop you, including prosecution and confiscation.

Over 600,000 of the postcard-sized leaflets have been produced and the British Association of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers is delivering 50 leaflets to each pharmacy in Great Britain.

Separate guidance for pharmacists and dispensing doctors was produced earlier this year by the RPSGB, MHRA and the Dispensing Doctor's Association (DDA). This 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

Notes to editor

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 Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency

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 by using the MHRA counterfeit hotline by email to or by phone to +44(0)207-084-2701 or via our website homepage at

For further information on counterfeit medication visit the MHRA's website at To report suspected counterfeit medication use the MHRA counterfeit hotline by email to or by phone to +44(0)207-084-2701.

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