Fake pharmaceuticals are a frighteningly big industry.
It’s estimated that up to 10% of medicines sold worldwide are counterfeit, with significantly higher percentages of fake or substandard pharmaceuticals being sold in low- and middle-income countries (
Phentermine is one of the most commonly counterfeited medications (2).
In the United States, most people come across fake or counterfeit medications when they purchase online from unverified vendors or outside of regular channels (
For this reason, it’s important to know how to properly identify phentermine and avoid fake phentermine pills.
The Appeal of Buying Phentermine Online
Phentermine has been the most popular prescription appetite suppressant in the United States for several decades, and it used to be sold online. However, in the late 1990s it became illegal to buy or sell controlled substances (like phentermine) online and this practice was brought to an abrupt halt (
Unsurprisingly, however, in our evermore digital world many people still look for some way to buy phentermine online. Despite the initial appeal of instant gratification and saving on doctor’s fees, buying this prescription-only medication online is unwise because:
- It’s illegal (phentermine is a class IV controlled substance)
- Phentermine is not safe for everyone
- Most phentermine pills sold online are fake & potentially-dangerous
Dangers of Fake Phentermine Pills
Fake phentermine pills are dangerous. Real phentermine is regulated, studied and medically-supervised and it still has its risks.
If you are sold fake phentermine online, it may consist of anything from an ineffective supplement to a hazardous counterfeit medication. Alarmingly, the World Health Organization estimates that at least one million people die each year from taking counterfeit medications (5).
Fake pharmaceuticals are dangerous because they often consist of:
- Dangerous, unknown chemicals
- Too much or too little of the active ingredient
- Unregulated formulations
- Strong medications taken without a doctor’s supervision
No matter your budget or desperation to lose weight, do not take fake phentermine.
How to Identify Fake Phentermine Pills
If you see a website or advertisement that promotes, “phentermine: no prescription necessary” chances are that it’s not real phentermine (
However, if you are unsure, watch-out for these three major warning signs:
One of the most common tricks that companies use to sell fake phentermine is to create a product whose name is something very similar to phentermine, or a well-known brand of the popular weight loss pills.
A few examples are:
None of these products contain real phentermine. They are not an equitable alternative for what you would receive from an actual doctor.
Pill & Packaging Imitations
Another common trick is to sell pills that look like real phentermine. Many supplement companies sell while tablets with blue specks (or blue and white capsules) to trick customers into thinking their product is real phentermine.
You can tell the difference between real and fake phentermine by taking the time to check manufacturer and imprint codes.
Also, remember that phentermine is only available with a doctor’s prescription. Real phentermine is a schedule IV controlled substance and the laws regulating its sale are in-place to protect you. If a product is sold online as “over the counter phentermine” either it’s not real phentermine, or it’s being sold illegally. Either way, you don’t want those pills.
Not sure if your phentermine is legitimate? Click here to see real phentermine pill pictures.
Misleading advertising is a widespread problem, especially in the weight loss industry.
Supplement and diet companies often use intentionally misleading advertising to deceive potential customers into thinking that the product will do more than it actually will. Other companies lie and claim that you can buy real phentermine online (through their site), but what they’re actually selling is a supplement or counterfeit medication.
Still other companies try to attract customers by offering seemingly impossible convenience or affordable price point, plus the promise of guaranteed weight loss.
As the old adage goes, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”
Fake Phentermine Images
So what does fake phentermine look like?
The fake phentermine images below give you an idea how hard it is to spot the differences between real and fake phentermine. This underscores the importance of buying phentermine pills from a trustworthy place, such as your local pharmacy.
Counterfeit Phentermine Pills
Dietary Supplements that Imitate Phentermine
- Blackstone, E. A., Fuhr, J. P., & Pociask, S. (2014). Health and Economic Consequences of Counterfeit Drugs. American Health & Drug Benefits, 7(4), 216-224.
- Wechsler, J. (2012, September 02). Campaign Mounts to Curb Counterfeit Drugs.
- Rueda-Clausen CF, Padwal RS, Sharma AM. New pharmacological approaches for obesity management. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2013;9(8):467-478.
- H.R. 6353: Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008, 110th Cong. (2008) (enacted).
- Science in Poland, Ministry of Science and Higher Education. (2018, March 21). Expert: Counterfeit drugs kill 1 million people each year.