Pharmacist finds fake Panadol being sold in Malaysia – here’s how to tell if yours is real

A Malaysian pharmacist managed to obtain fake Panadol sold on the market. Can you tell which is which?
Facebook/型男药剂师 Zeff Tan

Update: GSK has responded to Business Insider’s requests for more information. Read the article here: Malaysia is the only place where fake Panadol has been found – for now

A Malaysian pharmacist is warning consumers that there are fake versions of paracetamol product Panadol being sold, after he came across a fake version of the popular medicine in the country.

Zeff Tan, who hails from Penang, said in an August 21 Facebook post that he had obtained the fake Panadol after receiving a tip-off from netizens on where to get them.

A part-time blogger who often shares pharmaceutical information with his over 2,000 followers, Tan said that it was difficult for the untrained eye to spot the differences between the fake Panadol and the real deal.

Urging consumers to be vigilant, Tan said that he had identified a few ways in which the fake product differed from the real Panadol product produced by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

This includes:

1) Searching the MAL number

All authorised drugs in Malaysia are given a registration number by the Drug Control Authority.

This number is printed with the word “MAL” on the product’s packaging.

According to Tan, one way to tell if a product has a fake registration number is to search for the printed number on the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency website.

On the Government’s Pharmaceutical Services website, the authority also states that the registration number usually consists of eight numbers, and ends with the letter T,A,X or N.

There should also be a hologram sticker on the product which can be checked via a Meditag hologram decoder at pharmacy shops, it said.

2) Spelling errors

Another easy but often overlooked way to check if a product is legit is to see if there are any spelling errors, especially in key words such as the manufacturer’s name.

In the sample obtained by Tan, GlaxoSmithKline’s name is spelled wrongly as ClaxoSmithKline.

The packaging may also appear shoddily-made compared to the real product, he said.

3) Rough and badly produced pills

When Tan examined the fake Panadol he purchased, he also found that it was badly made, with rough and uneven edges on the tablets.

The real tablets have a smooth finish and even surface, he said.