Beware of Counterfeits

Fraudulent Use of Brands

They look like the real deal. The product name rings a bell. The logo of a well-known pharmaceutical company is visibly printed on the label. However, appearances are deceptive. In reality, these packages are often manufactured by criminal organizations which seek to make a profit at the expense of the patients’ health. They create fraudulent brands to make their fake drugs look like real ones. Neither quality nor efficacy of these supposed medicines are guaranteed.

Graphic: Beware of fraudulent use of medicine brands

Example: Testosterone Products

In some cases, such as in impotence or bone loss, patients benefit from a therapy with testosterone. Bodybuilders use testosterone as a doping agent to accelerate muscle growth and to boost their performance (so-called “anabolic agents”). Because they often do not possess a valid prescription from a doctor, the product is purchased through dubious channels. This bears great risks: “Medicines” available at illegal pharmacies are often neither tested nor approved. It has come to Bayer’s attention that not only fake versions of their products are being sold. There are also “bogus” medicines available that have never been produced by the company or any other real pharmaceutical manufacturer. This is indeed worrisome, since taking testosterone inappropriately can be associated with serious side-effects such as cardiovascular disease and liver cancer.

Making Profits from “Natural” Ingredients

The fraudulent use of brands has also given rise to a wide range of so-called “herbal supplements”. They are sold as “natural”, however this adjective does not automatically confer to a safe product. Ingredients derived from plants can also cause side-effects when taken. Illegal vendors, however, add the remark “natural” to suggest their product is safe and completely without side-effects, even if it is not the case. Sometimes, these herbal supplements do not even possess herbal extracts but are made of an unknown and unapproved cocktail of synthetic agents. If taken, they may have a substantial negative impact on your health.

How Do I Protect Myself from such “Medicines”?

If you do not recognize a medicine, play it safe. Make sure the drug you are holding is actually manufactured by the company named on the label. A quick search on can provide a first hint on whether to trust your medicine or not.

Also, be wary if acquaintances, be it on- or offline, recommend specific medicines that are under prescription. There is a reason why they are not available over the counter. Your physician will discuss with you the benefits and risks of certain medications and prescribe the best drug for you. Should you remain unsatisfied with your therapy outcome you should always consult your physician first and never change your medication haphazardly.

How Do I Recognize “Bogus” Medications?

Real medicines must go through several control procedures. Before they are approved, their efficacy must be proven in several studies. Scammers using brand names or company logos fraudulently do not adhere to these procedures. In the following cases, you should be especially careful:

  • Very cheap prices
    Fake brands or fabricated medicines do not undergo development or tests over several years. Scammers sell their products for prices that seem too good to be true and usually focus on this aspect in their advertisements.
  • Fake Bayer cross
    Be wary of products that depict the Bayer cross in a distorted way or have unusual color patterns. Compare the labels with Bayer products you know.
  • Familiar-sounding product names
    Some scammers invent names for their products that closely resemble the products you know and trust. By entering these names in a search engine, you will quickly find out which one is the actual drug!
  • Herbal extracts that are supposedly free from side-effects
    Natural ingredients can also cause side-effects. If a manufacturer claims that their product is especially safe and potent, it will be most likely a “bogus” product that may in the worst case contain a dangerous cocktail of active agents.