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FDA Warns Of Buying Fake Prescription Drugs Online

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BVN Staff Report

The US Food and Drug Administration launched a national campaign ‘BeSafeRx’ Friday alerting consumers to the risks of phony web pharmacies. The warning comes as nearly one in four people who shop online say they have bought prescription drugs from one of more of the 40,000 active online pharmacies, a huge majority of them fly-by-night start-ups, according to the FDA.

"Buying medicines from rogue online pharmacies can be risky because they may sell fake, expired, contaminated, not approved by FDA, or otherwise unsafe products that are dangerous to patients," FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in a statement.

"Fraudulent and illegal online pharmacies often offer deeply discounted products. If the low prices seem too good to be true, they probably are."

False online drug stores use sophisticated marketing techniques or fake Web storefronts to make themselves appear legitimate, the FDA said.

Drugs bought from such sources may contain the wrong or even harmful ingredients, putting patients' health at risk, it added.

They could sicken or kill people, cause them to develop a resistance to their real medicine, cause new side effects or trigger harmful interactions with other medications being taken.

To avoid being scammed, members of the public who choose to buy medication online should pick pharmacies that, among other things, require a valid prescription, are located in the United States and have a licensed pharmacist available for consultation, the FDA recommended.

FDA does not have jurisdiction of prescription medication from other countries; therefore, FDA cannot guarantee the safety or effectiveness of those medication.

Medicines approved in other countries may have slight variations, or different ingredients, that could cause you to develop a resistance to your medicine or result in a misdiagnosis by your doctor. If you take more than one medicine, these differences could also cancel out the effects of your medicines or cause harmful interactions.

Additionally, many of these illegal pharmacies use fake “storefronts” to make consumers think they come from countries with high safety standards, but the medicines could have been made anywhere.

Consumers are increasingly turning to online pharmacies for their medicines. The Internet provides consumers with instant access to information and services, including online pharmacies for prescription medicines. Health insurance plans are encouraging home delivery of maintenance medications and use of pharmacy services online. As the cost of prescription medicine continues to increase, consumers may look for cost savings from online pharmacies to afford their medicines.

In addition, many consumers value the convenience and privacy of purchasing their medicines online. For those consumers that may be considering purchasing from online sources that are not associated with health insurance plans or local pharmacy, the FDA says these consumers need to know the risks of buying from fraudulent online pharmacies.

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