Even products that are made by established manufacturers and undergo proper testing through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration can pose a threat to consumers. Counterfeit products, which require an unscrupulous nature to make or sell, are among the most dangerous products a person can buy. Counterfeit goods are not simply a way to get around expensive labels or beat the market. They often use materials that are substandard, cheap, and potentially unsafe for consumers. Unfortunately, counterfeit goods appear to be on the rise.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has seen a sharp rise in counterfeit goods over the past decade. It seized 24 percent more goods in the last year than the year prior and more than three times as many as it did a decade ago. By far the largest share of that increase belonged to counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Depending on the drug and what is used to make the fake version, consumers will either miss out on the critical benefits of the medication, or perhaps even suffer harm from the fake drug itself. Twice in the last year the FDA has discovered a counterfeit version of the cancer drug Avastin.
It is not always enough to simply avoid the sidewalk vendors in avoiding counterfeit goods. The fake Avastin had made its way to doctors’ offices. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce indicates that 64 percent of fake electronic goods are actually sold at legitimate retail locations. Among the more dangerous counterfeit goods are cosmetics, shampoo and personal care products. Even the fakes that don’t use dangerous chemicals end up as breeding grounds for bacteria.
It is important to read labels and understand what a product should look like and cost. If a deal looks too good to be true, it likely is.
Source: USA Today, “Counterfeit products are a growing, and dangerous, problem,” by Jayne O’Donnell, 6 June 2012