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English for PTA


Counterfeiting products is generally considered to be a problem in developing countries. In reality, the problem is a global one with sales of counterfeit medicines in 2010 estimated at 57 billion Euro.

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These 57 billion Euro not only include counterfeit medicines but also medical products. As recently as May this year, the European Council reported in the MEDICRIME Convention that almost 69 percent of articles seized in postal traffic were medicines.

The Convention defines “a counterfeit medical product” as a medical product whose identity, nature and/or source are fraudulently misrepresented, including information on the label. Consumers still order medicines online for prices much lower than through normal pharmacy outlet sources and don’t think twice that these medicines are in fact only available on prescription!

Elderly female pharmacy customer: Good morning. Do you speak English?
PTA: Yes. How may I help you?

Well I’m a little worried about a friend of mine. I was visiting him and his wife yesterday, and we got talking about aches and pains and medication. He told me about medication that he had found on a foreign internet pharmacy.
I see. What was the medication for?

He is 67 and quite overweight. Both of them are, and anyway he found this medication that promises to more or less melt away the pounds. I remember reading about something similar a few years ago, it was in all the papers about this medication for obesity that caused problems with the heart.
That could be fenfluramine. And he ordered this medication from an online pharmacy? I think that you should tell him that he must stop taking this medication as soon as possible. You see products such as fenfluramine have a negative effect on the cardiopulmonary system. And if he has ordered it from an online pharmacy, the chance that it is counterfeit is quite high.

Oh my goodness! What can I tell him?
One idea might be to send him to us so that we can advise him on genuine products. And to bring the medication with him so we can send it for analysis.

Isn’t there a danger that medication here might also be counterfeit?
While this possibility does exist, the channels of distribution in Germany, from manufacturing to wholesale to retail, are all extremely well monitored. The danger is minimal.

Why do people buy medication online? I can’t understand it, especially prescription medicine. How can one be sure of the efficacy of an online product?
I know, it’s unbelievable. Compliance is not guaranteed. Sometimes there is no active ingredient, or there is 300 percent active ingredient, or in injection phials only distilled water. And what can you do if you have side effects that are not listed in the patient information leaflet? Another reason for coming to us for advice in the first place!

I see. I’ll send my friends to you right away. You have been very helpful, thank you.

Billion Milliarde
as recently as erst
seized beschlagnahmt
source Quelle
fraudulently auf betrügerische Weise
misrepresented falsch dargestellt
outlet Verkaufsstelle
only available on prescription verschreibungspflichtig
reliable verlässlich
aches and pains Wehwehchen
obesity Adipositas, Fettleibigkeit
fenfluramine Fenfluramin, ein Anorektikum (Appetitzügler), das Ende der 1990er-Jahre
wegen starker Nebenwirkungen vom Markt genommen wurde
distribution Verteilung
wholesale Großhandel
retail Einzelhandel
efficacy Wirksamkeit
patient information leaflet (PIL) Beipackzettel

Den Artikel finden Sie auch in Die PTA IN DER APOTHEKE 09/12 auf Seite 66.

Catherine Croghan, Lecturer in English and native speaker