Counterfeit medicine is posing an increasing risk to public health, with millions of people rejecting prescription drugs for sham versions bought online, research has claimed.
Speaking at the launch of Get Real, Get a Prescription - a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of such substances - an umbrella organisation of pharmaceutical companies and regulatory bodies warned the drugs had no medical benefits.
The initiative, which cautions against buying unregulated medication from generic websites, comes in response to the news that one in seven adults admit to avoiding the healthcare system to get hold of supposedly prescription-only medicine.
Doctors at the launch said the substances frequently contained harmful materials such as rat poison, boric acid and lead paint, were regularly produced by people without appropriate qualifications and often contained too much, too little or none of the relevant active ingredient.
Organisations participating in the initiative include Pfizer, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB), The Patients Association and HEART UK.
The multi-media campaign includes a TV advert along with roadside and washroom posters, online messages and a “Men at work” roadshow travelling around the UK.