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Thread: FAQs on fake pills

  1. #1

    Post FAQs on fake pills

    How can I spot fake pills?

    The best test you can do at home is to heat a small glassful of water to bath temperature (100F/37C) and see if one of the pills dissolves completely in the water. This works because bath temperature is roughly human body temperature and all pills should dissolve in water at human body temperature, however counterfeiters sometimes use talc, dolomite, anhydrite, or gypsum to bind the pill together, and these substances do not dissolve well.

    Another test you can do at home is to drop part of the pill in vinegar. If the pills fizzes then that increases the likelihood that it is a fake. This is because the fizzing suggests it contains calcium carbonate as a 'filler'. Although it is used in genuine medicines as well sometimes as a harmless material to bulk out the pill, calcium carbonate is more often used in fakes because it is cheaper than starch (which is the filler ingredient more often used in genuine medicines).

    If you have access to a highly sensitive set of scales you could try comparing the weights of different pills in the batch that you have received. If the pills all weigh the same (to within 1%) then that is a good sign; the weight of pills in batches of fake medicines often varies, by as much as 10%.

    Use the free pill identifier tool on the drugs.com website: Pill Identification Wizard from Drugs.com
    Type in the shape and color or the imprint code found on the capsules or pills. This is quite an imperfect way to check if the pills are real, because obviously it is easy for forgers to put the correct imprint code on fake medicines, but it will at least help to identify the crudest fakes.
    In a laboratory setting a variety of techniques can be used to determine the composition of a pill: various types of 'wet chemistry' techniques; thin-layer chromatography; X-ray fluorescence; high-performance liquid chromatography, and mass spectrometry. But these tests require expensive equipment to perform, and can be time-consuming to analyze.

    How much of a problem is this when buying medicines online?

    “The best 'guesstimate' is that 1% of drugs in the developed world are counterfeit. In developing nations, between 10 and 50% of drugs are thought to be fake.” (Source: Chemical and Engineering News, January 4, 2010 Volume 88, Number 1, pages 27-29 Fake Pharmaceuticals | Science & Technology | Chemical & Engineering News)

    A lot of medicines bought online are manufactured in developing countries. Also some online pharmacies use "drop shippers" (wholesale companies that also take care of posting the medicines to customers on behalf of the pharmacies) so they don't have much control over the quality of the medicines that they send out, and cannot check easily if the drop shipping company they employ has been buying poor quality medicines from China, for example. For these reasons it pays to be careful in selecting an online pharmacy to order from, and using pharmacyreviewer.com to communicate with others to check which pharmacies are consistently reliable.

    A point worth keeping in mind is this: just because the medicine is fake it does not mean that it does not contain the active ingredients which it should. It just means it was not manufactured by the company it says on the box. There is a lot of hype put about by the marketing departments of the big pharmaceutical companies instilling fear in people that if they buy medicines online they will end up with rat poison, but instances of counterfeit medicines actually containing harmful substances are pretty rare (why would anyone in the business of manufacturing counterfeit medicines put poison in them?) Much much more common is that they will contain either too much or too little of the active ingredient, and the rest of the pill will be made up of filler substances such as calcite or aspirin. From the limited statistics available it appears that buying medicines online, even when the medicines are manufactured in developing countries, is generally pretty safe.

    Moreover, most of the highest rated online pharmacies on pharmacyreviewer.com sell medicines either made by the big pharmaceutical companies, or by large, long-established “generics”manufacturers, such as Dr Reddy's in India, which have quality control procedures in place comparable to the big pharmaceutical companies (indeed, Dr Reddy's for example has a manufacturing agreement with Glaxo Smithkline Inc, in which some Glaxo Smithkline medicines are manufactured in Dr Reddy's factories.)


  2. #2
    There may be some points I have missed in the above, or some people might take issue with my judgements on the how safe ordering online these days really is. If anyone has any comments please enlighten me. Thanks.

  3. #3
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    Another good way to check pills is to get a testing kit through an organization that supports safe raves. Dancesafe sells a kit that can detect opiates which I have used before. This is only good for opiates and other drugs like MDMA etc but it can help.
    Helpful Roboto, drboris Rated helpful

  4. #4
    GTOTemgesic is offline Banned Reason: Posting spam and shill reviews
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    All fairly sound advice. But, this sport is dangerous. Certainly you know that going in. While fake pills may be prevalent in the developing world thankfully they tend not to be dangerous. Just harmless corn starch or some other clumping agent. Or even just an aspirin. Which can be bad when buying heart medication for instance. When buying BP pills typically you want them to be exactly what you need.
    But, for people just looking to have a good time I suppose the worst that will happen is that you won´t. And yet again, you have wasted good money on a dubious source. Should you receive a fake pill that is. The Internet is a dangerous place...
    Also remember that it is much easier to make a fake pill than to make fake packaging. Not that it can´t be done. But, the point it packaging is expensive. If what you have comes in factory packaging you may feel a little more at ease. But, that is by no means a guarantee of purity. Just a better sign.
    Most pills manufactured outside of the States for sale outside of the States come in packaging that most gringos haven´t seen since the 80´s. Blister packs in unsecure cardboard boxes and capsules. That is because the nasty habit of poisoning medicine and setting it back on a store shelf seems to be a uniquely American pursuit. So, the point is that type of packaging may seem inferior to you. But it does not to the rest of the world because most of the rest of the world has never experienced a Tylenol poisoning. It is unheard of.
    All of the talk of vetting these sources is really exhausting. THERE IS NO WAY TO KNOW. The fancy pharmacy website you see in Germany is likely run by a guy named Wolfgang in a dirty apartment in Dusseldorf. Or by Habib in Peshwar. These are not large business´with shelves filled with clean and pure gringo approved pills.
    These people are selling illegal drugs, which makes them drug dealers. No matter how you choose to delude yourself about it. The website doesn´t mean a damn thing. Hell I could make a website that would have you believing I am selling 80 mg OC out of the Oval Office for $4 a piece. And with a dozen you get a free tour and an autographed picture of Michelle and the kids.
    Come on people. Call a rose a rose and a drug dealer a drug dealer. If you are going to play this game then play it knowing exactly WHO you are playing with...
    Like chuchu liked this post

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    This is just a FAQ thread ease up.

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    drboris,
    I greatly appreciate the information.
    "Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God."

  7. where can u get test kits for benzos?

  8. Unfortunately there currently no test kits available for benzodiazapines. Your best bet is to submit one of the pills to something like ecstasydata.org which will test the pill for you and post the results

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    There are no test kits for benzodiazepines in pill form that I'm aware of, however, if you are willing to ingest the drug, there are dip stick urine test kits for benzos. One example is: Buy a 1 substance Benzodiazepine Drug Test from DrugTestingWorld.com, for the use of benzodiazepine testing [IS1BZO / DBZ-114] 4-9 of them only cost a few dollars. Pretty cheap.

    Back when I ordered opiates from pharmamedics24 (back when they stocked opiates) I used to use store-bought drug test kits to confirm whether or not what I was taking was indeed an opiate. It turned out that they were indeed some kind of opiates, though I can't confirm whether they were codeine or something else. Those dip stick tests are remarkably accurate, or so the EMT's have told me who used to administer the tests at the place I used to work.
    Helpful 5150_bound, hillie52 Rated helpful

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by drboris View Post
    How can I spot fake pills?

    The best test you can do at home is to heat a small glassful of water to bath temperature (100F/37C) and see if one of the pills dissolves completely in the water. This works because bath temperature is roughly human body temperature and all pills should dissolve in water at human body temperature, however counterfeiters sometimes use talc, dolomite, anhydrite, or gypsum to bind the pill together, and these substances do not dissolve well.

    Another test you can do at home is to drop part of the pill in vinegar. If the pills fizzes then that increases the likelihood that it is a fake. This is because the fizzing suggests it contains calcium carbonate as a 'filler'. Although it is used in genuine medicines as well sometimes as a harmless material to bulk out the pill, calcium carbonate is more often used in fakes because it is cheaper than starch (which is the filler ingredient more often used in genuine medicines).

    If you have access to a highly sensitive set of scales you could try comparing the weights of different pills in the batch that you have received. If the pills all weigh the same (to within 1%) then that is a good sign; the weight of pills in batches of fake medicines often varies, by as much as 10%.

    Use the free pill identifier tool on the drugs.com website: Pill Identification Wizard from Drugs.com
    Type in the shape and color or the imprint code found on the capsules or pills. This is quite an imperfect way to check if the pills are real, because obviously it is easy for forgers to put the correct imprint code on fake medicines, but it will at least help to identify the crudest fakes.
    In a laboratory setting a variety of techniques can be used to determine the composition of a pill: various types of 'wet chemistry' techniques; thin-layer chromatography; X-ray fluorescence; high-performance liquid chromatography, and mass spectrometry. But these tests require expensive equipment to perform, and can be time-consuming to analyze.

    How much of a problem is this when buying medicines online?

    “The best 'guesstimate' is that 1% of drugs in the developed world are counterfeit. In developing nations, between 10 and 50% of drugs are thought to be fake.” (Source: Chemical and Engineering News, January 4, 2010 Volume 88, Number 1, pages 27-29 Fake Pharmaceuticals | Science & Technology | Chemical & Engineering News)

    A lot of medicines bought online are manufactured in developing countries. Also some online pharmacies use "drop shippers" (wholesale companies that also take care of posting the medicines to customers on behalf of the pharmacies) so they don't have much control over the quality of the medicines that they send out, and cannot check easily if the drop shipping company they employ has been buying poor quality medicines from China, for example. For these reasons it pays to be careful in selecting an online pharmacy to order from, and using pharmacyreviewer.com to communicate with others to check which pharmacies are consistently reliable.

    A point worth keeping in mind is this: just because the medicine is fake it does not mean that it does not contain the active ingredients which it should. It just means it was not manufactured by the company it says on the box. There is a lot of hype put about by the marketing departments of the big pharmaceutical companies instilling fear in people that if they buy medicines online they will end up with rat poison, but instances of counterfeit medicines actually containing harmful substances are pretty rare (why would anyone in the business of manufacturing counterfeit medicines put poison in them?) Much much more common is that they will contain either too much or too little of the active ingredient, and the rest of the pill will be made up of filler substances such as calcite or aspirin. From the limited statistics available it appears that buying medicines online, even when the medicines are manufactured in developing countries, is generally pretty safe.

    Moreover, most of the highest rated online pharmacies on pharmacyreviewer.com sell medicines either made by the big pharmaceutical companies, or by large, long-established “generics”manufacturers, such as Dr Reddy's in India, which have quality control procedures in place comparable to the big pharmaceutical companies (indeed, Dr Reddy's for example has a manufacturing agreement with Glaxo Smithkline Inc, in which some Glaxo Smithkline medicines are manufactured in Dr Reddy's factories.)

    Hmm well that is a great guide, but i have a ?.. If you got something compounded with APAP or aspirin, it would leave behind a powder right? ='/

  11. Wow! Thanks for the information guys! Such great stuff in here!

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    To add to @drboris' first post, the pill should dissolve 30 minutes after you drop the pill in the water. Uncoated pills should dissolve in 30 minutes, coated tablets dissolve in 45 minutes.

    Others recommend heating vinegar (if you're using vinegar instead of water) before dropping the pill to be tested.
    Like jholden40 liked this post

  13. So, will testing them ruin their potency or what?

    Cuz, it would suck to ruin some good pills. I'm sure everyone agrees with me on that.

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    ^Well you only need to test pills if you have second thoughts about their quality. When in doubt, it's better to "ruin" a pill or two by testing them instead if ingesting bad pills unknowingly.
    Like 5150_bound liked this post

  15. #15
    I know with most heart meds the problem is that some of those pills contain over 1000% of the active ingrediant, which is why I quit bringing my meds back from Mexico.

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    What about bringing a sample of a particular pill to your neighborhood pharmacist? Are they likely to provide any assistance? Are the CAPABLE of providing any assistance? Perhaps they'll just decline and send you on your way, but I wondered if it's worth the time to get their opinion?

  17. Well maybe people shouldn't buy pills from Carlos in a Dominican alley and they won't have to test them lol

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    Quote Originally Posted by rastastix View Post
    What about bringing a sample of a particular pill to your neighborhood pharmacist? Are they likely to provide any assistance? Are the CAPABLE of providing any assistance? Perhaps they'll just decline and send you on your way, but I wondered if it's worth the time to get their opinion?
    Pharmaceutical quality control research is not like checking the produce at the grocery story where you can squeeze it, sniff it, hold it up to a light and render judgement. People spend a good part of their adult lives (10-12 years) being highly trained to do this type of work: it is not trivial.

    The equipment needed to test for any given compound in a suspect pill (GasChrom, MassSpec, etc.) is far beyond what your neighborhood pharmacist has on-hand. It would be difficult for him or her to lay hands even on the SOP protocols to perform such an analysis. And then there's the unspoken question of "does the pill contain something else that may be harmful?" which is asking him or her to look for maybe 100 common contaminants and an infinite number of unknowns. A fully equipped analytical laboratory not routinely doing such tests would still require at least a day's worth of set-up and calibration/validation labor, and another day to do the experiment and evaluate the results, just for the first question, and cost thousands of dollars (labor/equipment access). Testing for the second question could take all year and cost hundreds of thousands. Now a laboratory that routinely does this sort of testing could answer the first question quickly (an hour) and at a minimal cost of a few hundred dollars, but the second question is still going to be difficult. Either way, your local pharmacist is incapable of doing this.

    What you MIGHT get from your local pharmacist (but not from a pill-counting assistant at a major consumer -mart pharmacy) is contact information for a quality-testing laboratory that they themselves have access to, and which might do the testing for you (at full price). Both your pharmacist and the laboratory may, however, question your possession the pill(s). Remember, a licensed pharmacist is expected to have a variety of medicines, but you are not.

    Finally, even if you try to persuade your pharmacist to send your pill away for testing for you, if the results show anomaly in composition, there may be reporting requirements by both the testing lab and the pharmacist which could lead to questions to YOU that you'd rather not answer.

    Most likely, however, is the following:
    YOU: Hello neighborhood pharmacist, can you test this pill I mail-ordered from overseas for purity and drug content?
    PHARM: You mean the one you paid $1 for to obtain from a source so unreliable that you don't trust it, instead of coming to me in the first place for a drug of guaranteed purity?
    YOU: Well yes, but I couldn't afford your price of $10 per pill to buy 50 pills because I had to spend that $500 on my rent.
    PHARM: I can't test it, but you can send it to this company for testing--you will get your results in a week, and it will cost you $1,500.
    YOU: If I could afford $1,500, I wouldn't have bought the pill overseas in the first place--isn't there some other way?
    PHARM: Yes, you can pay $200 to visit a physician and get a prescription and then $500 to me to provide you with pure, guaranteed medicines.
    YOU: I told you, I have to pay the rent and buy food for my two kids--I don't have the extra $750.
    PHARM: Get insurance--it only costs $9,000 per year for your family.
    YOU: Thank you for your advice.
    PHARM: You're welcome--come again when you can't stay so long.
    Helpful drboris, Dicazepam, pony express Rated helpful
    Like dedicated, morphosis, Cat60 liked this post

  19. Default dissolve antibiotic in water

    If there is a (Titanium dioxide IP) sorrounding the pill.

    The pill I have is antibiotics and it dissolves completley in about 30 min,
    but the so coating is made of (titanium dioxide ip) and does not dissolve, when I look up Titanium dioxide I find that it does not dissolve i water or hydrochloric acid, dilute sulfuric acid, and organic
    solvents. It dissolves slowly in hydrofluoric acid and hot concentrated sulfuric acid.


    Is this normal or do I have a fake pill?

    The pill doesent exist in any pill identifacation.

  20. Thanks Lots of good info here. I know I've been wondering about the OCs that are still being sold, when only OPs are being manufactured. I kind of wondered about these anyway, the ones that come from the SY guys. If they can get 40 to 60 per pill, you know someone in china would be glad to manufacture some that would look identical. They could use whatever for the active ingredient, right. As long as they work, they will get repeat biz.

    Suppose they use Fentanyl for the active ingredient, now thats scary. Such a small amount could put you in a pine box. A pound of fent could probably make 100,000 strong pills.

    Just hope they guy doing the mixing isn't sampling the process.


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