You are a doctor, nurse, pharmacist or even a customs officer… this concerns you!

You work in a pharmacy, a pharmaceutical warehouse, a health centre, a hospital or even a customs office…this concerns you!

Medicines of inferior quality (called sub-standards) or falsified medicines often have an abnormal external appearance which can be detected by careful examination.

This is what we explain here:

Visual inspection of the medicine is a simple technique suitable for detecting poor-quality medicines in the field.

We have selected the quality attributes of medicines whose evaluation does not require technical expertise or access to regulatory information. These attributes were then classified according to a three-level risk scale to guide decision making regarding suspected poor quality medicines.

The simplified visual inspection sheet contains 26 binary questions (YES/NO), grouped into four themes: packaging, identification, traceability and physical appearance.

Each non-compliance corresponds to a level of risk for patients.

Three possible actions are proposed to health professionals:

A: Dispensing with a reasonable level of safety

B: Dispensing with reservations

C: Quarantine of the product and assessment of risks and benefits before dispensing.

The visual inspection sheet and the instructions for its use can be found in the attached file from the Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice. 2020 JPPP Checklist visual inspection FPP to empower frontline workers 

Authors: B. Schiavetti, E. Wynendaele, V. Melotte, J. Van der Els, B. De Spiegeleer and R. Ravinetto.

If you want to use this visual inspection sheet, you can contact for a free distance learning course:

– Christian Roberti, e-mail address:

– Pierre Daveloose, e-mail address: