updated 7/30/2004 2:15:34 PM ET 2004-07-30T18:15:34

Several Americans buying medication in Mexico have come back with counterfeit versions of the cholesterol drug Zocor and a generic painkiller, the Food and Drug Administration warned Friday.

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The fake Zocor didn’t contain any of the actual cholesterol-lowering ingredient, and the counterfeit carisoprodol was far less potent than real versions of the painkiller, FDA said.

The agency warned that patients who use the counterfeit Zocor face serious health risks from their untreated cholesterol, and that those taking the fake painkiller will get insufficient relief.

The FDA advised anyone who may have recently purchased the fakes, sold at Mexican border-town pharmacies, to contact their doctor and their nearest FDA office, which can be found at the agency’s Web site, http://www.fda.gov.

The fakes were sold as: Zocor 40/mg, lot number K9784, expiration date November 2004; and Carisoprodol 350/mg, lot number 68348A.

FDA said it was working with Mexican officials to halt the counterfeit sales, but spokeswoman Laura Alvey couldn’t say if border officials have been told to attempt to stop imports.

Counterfeit drugs are a growing problem. While they sometimes sneak into U.S. drugstores, the FDA has long said that medicine sold from abroad and/or over the Internet is more likely to be fraudulent. Sales of foreign and Internet-shipped drugs are increasing as Americans search for cheaper medications.

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