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How to Identify Counterfeit Drugs in Online Pharmaceutical Trades

Cases of counterfeit drugs sold online are a significant problem in the online trading world. From a 2020 report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), antibiotics take the most counterfeited pharmaceutical product.

As health practitioners, it is best to have a keen eye on detecting fake medicine within the online pharmaceutical market. Hence, we provide a few pointers on how to differentiate authentic and forged drugs. 

How to Identify Counterfeit Drugs

Counterfeit Drugs Pricing 

If the price of a pharmaceutical good is significantly lower than the market price, it is more likely to be a counterfeit product. In other words, dishonest traders tend to perform this scam tactic to understand how products with lower costs can easily attract more customers

Hence, the best way to prevent this is to research before purchasing. Moreover, it would be best to compare prices between different suppliers to know the product’s original market price. 



Although it can be hard to distinguish between real and fake medical products at first glance, you can spot the contrast if you pay attention to the package design: 

  • Colour: tone and shade
  • Typography: misspellings, font sizes, and font type
  • Vector: shape and size

Again, research is vital before making any purchase decisions. 

In addition, some counterfeit products might not have a proper seal or packaging. If you find that your newly arrived batch of cough medicines are not within their boxes, there is a possibility the goods are not genuine.  

Drug Registration Number

Drug Registration Number

Authentic medical drugs have a series of registration numbers. In Malaysia, the valid serial number will start with MAL (short form for Malaysia), followed by an 8-digit number. Subsequently, the alphabet at the end of the serial indicates the registration category. 

Here is a list of the categories:

  • A: Controlled medicines
  • X: Over the counter medicines (OTC)
  • T: Natural Products/ Traditional Medicines
  • N: Health Supplements
  • H: Veterinary Products

Therefore, having a registered serial number on the package shows that the drug is Ministry of Health (MOH) approved. 

Anti-Counterfeit Hologram Meditag

Have you noticed the glowing sliver Meditag holographic sticker on the side of pharmaceutical packagings?

This sticker works as a security to ensure product authenticity and MOH approval. For instance, the latest version is the 2012’s third-generation Meditag with a picture of a tiger within a circle. 

Here are the reasons why pirated medical packaging does not include this sticker: 

  • Expensive to manufacture
  • Time-consuming
  • The holographic sticker material is not publicly accessible as it is only available to licensed manufacturers 
Meditag checker app

Besides, you can download a Meditag checker app to examine product authenticity. 

If you are looking for a dependable pharmaceutical supplier that provides over 2,000 products alongside delivery services, Mayflax is your top choice. It has served 25 years in the industry, fulfilling the medication needs of many practices. 

Find out more about Mayflax’s services on our website or contact us for more information.