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LOOK: Here's how to spot counterfeit paracetamol

By SAAB LARIOSA Published Jan 07, 2022 5:16 pm

Amid the reports that there have been paracetamol shortages in the country, private pharmaceutical company Unilab has released instructions on how to determine counterfeit paracetamol.

The drug company shared a guide on the difference between fake and authentic Biogesic, reminding buyers to only purchase from certified drugstores and retailers. The following are the details to look out for:

Tablet Color

  • Fake -  Appear brighter or paler than usual.
  • Authentic - Has its designated milligram and the Biogesic engraving clear

Product pocket

  • Fake - Appears bigger than the pill itself
  • Authentic - Well-fit

Pattern 

  • Fake - Dotted
  • Authentic - Diamond

Packaging Color

  • Fake - Foil is lighter or darker than the standard blue
  • Authentic - Standard blue color in uniform with other authentic packs

Unilab Seal Watermark 

  • Fake - Clearly visible in grey or white-colored emblem
  • Authentic - The Unilab seal is rendered in the diamond pattern and can only be seen in certain angles
Source: Unilab

Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Agency (FDA) also released an advisory on Dec. 22, 2021 warning against the selling of counterfeit drug products, with similar paracetamol products joining the list.

If you and your loved ones are on the lookout for other paracetamol brands in the country, here are the differences to take note of when making the purchase:

Bioflu

Phenylephrine HCl / Chlorphenamine Maleate / Paracetamol

Differences:

  • Placement and size of the Unilab logo
  • The counterfeit pill has a paler or brighter appearance than usual
  • The product pocket of the authentic is tightly-fit
Decolgen

Phenylpropanolamine HCl / Chlorphenamine Maleate / Paracetamol

Differences: 

  • The counterfeit pill has a paler or brighter appearance than usual. Authentic pill features a toned-down yellow.
  • Packaging color has a paler or brighter appearance than usual.
Neozep Forte

Phenylephrine HCl / Chlorphenamine Maleate / Paracetamol

Differences

  • The counterfeit pill has a paler or brighter appearance than usual.
  • Packaging color has a paler or brighter appearance than usual.
Alaxan FR

Ibuprofen / Paracetamol

Differences:

  • The counterfeit pill has a paler or brighter appearance than usual.
  • Packaging color has a paler or brighter appearance than usual.
Tuseran Forte

Dextromethorphan HBr / Phenylpropanolamine HCl / Paracetamol

Differences:

  • The counterfeit pill has a paler or brighter appearance than usual.
  • Packaging color has a paler or brighter appearance than usual.

Aside from the apparent differences, the FDA also recommends checking the logo, security mark, knurling (pattern), print color, and appearance if there's a difference from the standard, as counterfeits are nearly identical to authentic medicine except for their active ingredients. Ensure that you are also purchasing the medicine from valid pharmacies and sellers.

Shortly after brands such as Biogesic and Bioflu went trending on social media due to the reported shortage, Unilab issued a statement on the concerns.

"We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused. We assure you that we are working with our partner drugstores and retailers to accelerate replenishment at the soonest possible time," the drug company said.

In the midst of reportings of paracetamol shortage in local drugstores, the Department of Health and (DOH) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) have said there is enough stock in the country. DOH has also recommended the use of generic alternatives.

"The DOH would like to assure the public that while there is an increased demand for such products, there is no ongoing shortage in the Philippines... Paracetamol has many generic alternatives in the market, which are available in many drug stores nationwide," DOH said on Jan. 6.

The health agency has also requested the public to refrain from hoarding and panic-buying medicine.