Beware of Counterfeits

Recognizing Fakes

A man in glasses is holding a bottle of green tea.

How can you recognize counterfeit drugs especially while internet shopping or traveling? Find out more…

Counterfeits exist of products made by nearly all renowned pharmaceutical companies. Bayer, too, is affected, through its drug for treatment of erectile dysfunction. Criminals make counterfeits of other medicines as well, and sell them primarily through illegal online pharmacies. But there is clear evidence that they are sold in red-light districts, discos, and gyms.

Please remember: Even if an illegal medication seems to work, you never know what substances you are in fact taking – nor what risks they have and side effects they may cause.

How Do I Protect Myself from Counterfeits?

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Knowledge protects you from fakes. If you want to protect yourself, be suspicious of dubious offers. The most important question is: Do I trust the seller?

When in doubt, check this website for a list of reputable internet pharmacies.

If a private person tries to sell you medications, decline the offer and immediately contact the police or customs authorities.

  • In Europe, medications may only be sold through pharmacies.
  • Most medicines are available only with a prescription. Pharmacists may only provide medication when the patient provides a prescription from a physician.
  • You can find out which medication require a prescription by looking at the package or asking your pharmacist.
  • In matters of prescription medicine, view your pharmacy as your trusted partner.

New Levitra®
Packs and / or
blisters with the
batch number
BXB10855 are
always fakes.

Example: Drugs for Treating Erectile Dysfunction

Many fake drugs for erectile dysfunction are sold illegally and sometimes even at a higher price than the original product. A pharmacy is the only trustworthy place for prescription medicines. Anyone who ignores pharmaceutical legislation is only interested in their own profit, and not in providing safe, effective, high-quality medicines.


  • You always need a prescription to get prescription medicine. Other offers are illegal.
  • It is also illegal to sell medication without the full packaging, in Europe consisting of a foldable box, blister, and patient medication guides (leaflet). Illegal online pharmacies often sell counterfeited tablets with packaging that is nearly identical to the original. These packages resemble the original product very closely, but commonly contain spelling mistakes.

packagings, blisters 
and pill bottles
with the following 
codes are always 

Be Careful in the Internet and While Traveling

A man and woman standing on a train with luggage.
  • Many dubious sellers offer counterfeited products that are difficult to distinguish from the original. The websites of internet pharmacies also look legitimate. They often offer medical advice. Even if the tablets or packaging look like the original, there is no guarantee that you have a safe, effective product. Original products by pharmaceuticals makers are equipped with special security features, such as lettering, color hues and embossing on the packaging, that let you verify their authenticity.
  • Read more about these features of the various products on our “Beware of Counterfeits” homepage at the bottom of the page, under “Download product brochures and flyers.” You can find an overview of legal and certified online pharmacies on the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy website
  • When purchasing medication abroad, go to the pharmacy in that country rather than other sources. It makes sense to speak with your physician or pharmacist and prepare a personal “travel kit” containing your medicines before you go abroad.
  • Should suspicious medication fall in your hands, consult your physician or pharmacist, or contact the original product’s maker. This is particularly true if you notice that a medicine you have taken seems to have a different effect than usual, or if the packaging somehow seems different.
  • The European Commission has developed a verification logo to prevent fakes from being sold in Europe. Only certified online pharmacies are allowed to display the new logo – a white cross on green-and-gray background – on their home pages. A click on the logo takes consumers to the website of the public authority in their country, where they find a list of all certified pharmaceutical distributors. Consumers can be confident that vendors with the verification logo sell only original brands.


  • More information about the verification logo can be found in this article.

European Parallel Imports

Please note that in certain cases, so-called parallel imports are allowed. In the EU, importers may import authorized medications from another country of the European Union and repackage them. They exchange the original packaging for their own version, or attach labels in the country’s language. In any case, the company in charge of re-packaging has to be clearly stated. Your pharmacist can provide you with more information.


Because every country has different laws regarding reimport or parallel import of medicines, please check the websites of your national health ministries for more information.