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‘BeSafeRx’: Risks of buying from fake online pharmacies

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Buying prescription medicine from fraudulent online pharmacies can be dangerous, or even deadly, according to a new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning. At best, counterfeit medicines are fakes of approved drugs and should be considered unsafe and ineffective. These medicines may be less effective or have unexpected side effects. No serious injuries have been linked to those fakes, but the FDA notes that when drugs don't help patients get better doctors usually blame the disease or assume a different medicine is needed. That means most fakes aren't detected.

So the FDA, which has put increasing focus on the counterfeiting problem, on Friday launched a website, HYPERLINK "http://www.FDA.gov/BeSafeRx"www.FDA.gov/BeSafeRx , that shows consumers how to determine if an online pharmacy is safe. "Buying prescription medicine from a fake online pharmacy can be dangerous, or even deadly," the site warns. It includes tips on how to spot illegal pharmacies, links to state databases of licensed pharmacies and explanations of all the dangers of rogue pharmacies. Besides likely getting fake drugs, that includes the risk that they will infect your computer with viruses, sell your personal and financial information to other rogue websites and Internet scammers, or charge you for products you never ordered or received. In addition to health risks, most fraudulent online pharmacies may put your personal and financial information at risk. Some intentionally misuse the information you provide. These sites may infect your computer with viruses, and they may sell your information to other illegal websites and Internet scams.

Avoid online pharmacies that: Allow you to buy drugs without a prescription or by completing an online questionnaire Offer discounts or cheap prices that seem too good to be true Send unsolicited email or other spam offering cheap medicine Ship prescription drugs worldwide State that the drugs will be shipped from a foreign country Are located outside the United States Are not licensed by a state board of pharmacy in the United States (or equivalent state health authority)

To identify a safe online pharmacy, make sure that the online pharmacy: Requires a valid prescription Provides a physical address in the United States Is licensed by the state board of pharmacy in your state and the state where the pharmacy is operating. Has a state-licensed pharmacist to answer your question

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