Showing posts with label fake online pharmacies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fake online pharmacies. Show all posts

Monday, June 24, 2013

Rogue Pharmacies—A Danger to Your Health AND Wallet

Sure, who doesn't want to save a buck or two these days?  With the high cost of prescription medicines, many are tempted by the enticingly cheap prices of drugs they see at online pharmacies.  Before you get too curious yourself, you’ll want to know the results of an alarming 2013 report by The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.

Whether or not you use the free FamilyWize discount card, we consider it a public service to let you know the latest news on the high risks of buying drugs from online pharmacies.

Trustworthy online pharmacies will always require you to have a doctor's prescription for your medication


Are all online pharmacies bad?


You likely know the expression, “One bad apple doesn't spoil the whole bunch.”  But when it comes to the reliability of online pharmacies today, it turns out that 97 out of every 100 of them are bad apples, according to The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP).   In their January report, involving nearly 11 thousand online pharmacies, the NABP discovered a full 97 percent were out of compliance with U.S. laws.

And this isn't just an overseas problem – the danger is right here in the U.S..  According to the NABP, 9,938 of the rogue online pharmacies identified as being businesses not recommended for U.S. consumers, roughly half of them are selling drugs to U.S. residents, drugs that are of foreign origin or that have not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

These rogue pharmacies are often disguising themselves to their prospective online customers as being of Canadian or American origin—not hard to do with simple website design—and yet they are often operating their business from other countries, many that have lax or no regulatory controls in place. 

How dangerous is this situation?  Potentially deadly. Many of these unregulated pharmacies, the NABP reports, are also selling counterfeit, expired, adulterated, or contaminated drugs.  If you are not getting the drug that’s on the label, not getting it in the correct dosages (too strong or too weak, due to lack of standardization in manufacturing), or getting drugs that have unapproved fillers or additives, your very life could be in danger.  According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), even slight differences in your medicine can make a big difference in safety.  Medicine that is not FDA approved, even if it was approved by another country will like have variations or different ingredients that the FDA says can cause you to get sicker, develop a resistance to your medicine, or cause new side effects. 

The FDA warms that your risk increases if you take more than one medication, as the differences between what you were expecting to take and what you may  be actually taking from a questionable pharmacy could also affect the way other medicines work or cause harmful interactions.


Not just health risks, but financial risks as well


The FDA is concerned enough about these unregulated online pharmacies to use uncharacteristically harsh language, calling them “fake online pharmacies” in this article.  Their concern is based on the fake pharmacies’ lack of adequate safeguards to protect not just your health from their products, but the potential danger to your personal and financial information from either careless or intentionally malicious practices with the information you provide during your online transaction.  In some cases, the fake pharmacy sites exist only to infect your computer with viruses or sell your personal information to other rogue websites and Internet scams—you’ll never receive your purchased drug, just a nightmare of financial trouble.


Efforts to stop rogue pharmacies


Some good news:  Because of the NABD report’s discoveries and other recent efforts, collaborative U.S. and cross-border enforcement efforts are under way:
  • One such operation, the 100-country Operation Pangea, brought about the shutdown of literally thousands of rogue pharmacy sites.
  • LegitScript.com produced evidence of fake drug sites that resulted in about 5 thousand rogue sites getting shut down.
  • The FDA has started BeSafeRx, a national campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of buying prescription medicines from fake online pharmacies. This campaign provides the resources to help consumers know the risks of online pharmacies, identify rogue online pharmacies, and how to find reliable online pharmacies.
As well, the NABP is taking steps to curb rogue pharmacies by working to form a .pharmacy Web domain, which will only be made available to legitimate online pharmacies, just as the .gov domain today is only available to government agencies.  The effort is not in place yet, but will go far to helping consumers easily identify the real online pharmacies from the fakes.


How do I find trustworthy online pharmacies?


Yes, there are legit, licensed, reliable online pharmacies—the “good apples.” How do you identify them?  Look to the FDA for help.  Medicine that is approved for use in the United States has been reviewed for safety and effectiveness by the FDA.  The FDA offers the following characteristics to help you identify safe online pharmacies. A reliable online prescription drug store will always:
  • Require you to have a doctor’s prescription.
  • Have a license with your state board of pharmacy.
  • Provide a verifiable physical address and telephone number in the United States.
  • Offer a pharmacist to answer your questions.
How can you know if an online pharmacy is licensed to do business in your state?  Easy; just check out the FDA’s Find your state’s pharmacy licensing database search engine. 


Safe ways to save money on your prescriptions


FamilyWize can help.  Whether you seek to buy your prescription drugs online or at your neighborhood drug store, you can save up to 75 percent on prescription medication just by printing and presenting your FREE prescription card from FamilyWize.org.  FamilyWize functions like a huge consumer group buying service for the uninsured and underinsured. The medication discounts are provided voluntarily by the more than 61,000 participating pharmacies that have agreed to provide prices similar to what they give large insurance companies and employers.  To learn more, see How the Discount Card Works, look up drug prices, or look up participating pharmacies.


Ric Moxley 
Contributing Writer