Fake Dermal Fillers & Aesthetic Products exist, fact.

The Pharmaceutical Industry has long struggled with how to combat counterfeit products.  Thankfully, changes to legislation over the last few years have made life difficult for counterfeiters. But, with the increases in the sales of aesthetic products the potential is there for a change in their focus.

It is not a nice feeling thinking that you could unwittingly buy counterfeit or fake dermal fillers, or other aesthetic products. But, to help reduce the risk, there are a number of things that can be done.

Here are or 6 Top Tips to help identify when all may not be as it seems.

  1. Changes in packaging – while packaging can change for legitimate reasons, the cardboard box, internal packaging and any package inserts could also be used to help identify a fake product.  Look for a difference in size, feel and thickness of the material. The most commonly missed attribute is a different colour of card inside the box.
  2. Difference in the print – look at the shade of the ink colour, including black.  The depth of the colour, such as a bolder font can be an indication of a fake.  It isn’t unusual for at least a little bit of text to be different in font size or width (narrow vs standard font) in fakes.  A great indicator of a problem will also be the method of how the batch and expiry details are printed on the box.  Most manufacturers will use the same equipment for this so there shouldn’t be a difference.
  3. Batch and expiry patterns – most manufacturers batch numbers will follow a pattern and their expiry dates will match this pattern.  If an expiry date is out of sync with the batch number pattern then it’s time to be cautious.
  4. The actual product and any associated devices – those of you who use the product all the time will know how the device feels, looks or even smells, even if it is just how it sits in your hand when you handle it.
  5. Make sure you use a reliable supplier – Take your normal precautions with websites.  Companies that also sell medicines can have their wholesale dealers licence checked with the MHRA. The General Pharmaceutical Council can confirm Pharmacy registrations. Internet pharmacies in the UK are required to display the green internet pharmacy logo on their website. You can click on the logo and link to a confirmation of their registration.
  6. If you are offered a deal that is too good to be true then be cautious. – If the price is too good and the volume unusual, ask questions about the source.

A handy hint is to keep the packaging of an old product.  If you have any concerns, lay the old pack and new pack side by side and check each panel. It is far easier to spot differences in text, colour, size and feel when you can compare one against the other. Run your finger over the print and compare the feel.

It will rarely be one indicator that identifies a product as a fake. It will more likely be a combination of several subtle differences.

What to Do

If you suspect you have a counterfeit, don’t use it and speak to your supplier. If you are still unhappy about it, then report it to the authorities via the MHRA yellow card scheme (https://yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk/counterfeit-products/).

Sheryl-Anne Glanvill
Operations Director – Teleta Pharma