The prevalence of online pharmacies has made it easier to purchase medication and has also significantly reduced drug prices. With rising drug prices, more and more people are tempted to purchase cheaper pills online. But there are an ever growing number of online pharmacies that are selling fake medication. This poses a serious health risk since you are putting your life in the hands of unscrupulous people only looking to make a buck. The U.S. Government estimates that nearly 95% of online drugstores are rogue sites selling counterfeit medications.
Our Online Pharmacy Reviews are designed to help you cut through the noise and get your prescription medication safely.
Where is the Best Country to Buy Medication From?
One of the main factors to consider when buying medication online is the country of origin. Some countries have widespread and varying regulations that are intended to control the sale of medication online. And some countries have little or no regulation to stop unscrupulous sites from selling medication and therefore many less than honest sites will set up their operations in these countries.
The U.S., Europe and Canada have the best regulations when it comes to online pharmacies. These countries have numerous rules aimed at ensuring that online pharmacies can sell legitimate medications.
Regulations and Approvals
Your first priority when buying medication online should be safety. As such, any online pharmacy that you choose to purchase medication from should be regulated by a recognized regulatory body.
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) is the main online pharmacy regulatory body in the United States. It runs a program known as the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site (VIPPS), a program that is used to regulate online pharmacy stores based in the U.S. The next time you want to purchase medication from a U.S. based online pharmacy look for it on the NABP database.
In Canada, the government is not directly involved in the regulation of online pharmacies. A number of independent regulatory associations including CIPA, Pharmacy Checker and local associations like MIPA and IPABC are responsible for the regulation of online pharmacy and come up with rules that members have to follow.
Some of the rules set by these regulatory associations include the fact that members have to check the validity of prescriptions before selling medication, they have to get accurate medical information from the patient to avoid adverse drug interactions, provide pharmacists consultation when necessary and ensure the privacy of their customers.
One of the main problems with online pharmacies that claim to be in Canada is that a lot of them really aren’t Canadian. Fake online pharmacies based in countries like Russia, India, Pakistan and even China take advantage of the large numbers of U.S. citizens looking for cheaper medication in Canada. They use names and logos pretending to be Canadian.
The EU has one of the strongest regulatory legislation for online pharmacies. Online pharmacies registered in Europe have to display the EU logo on every page of their online store as well as a logo containing the flag of the country the pharmacy is based in. Like all other businesses in the EU, they are also required to register with an EU government agency.
The EU continues to increase regulations aimed at medical safety and some of these regulations including the Falsified Medicines Directive Legislation (FMD) are aimed at regulating the sale of medications. The FMD came into effect in February, 2019 and offers more regulations when it comes to drug packaging and authentication scanning processes when dispensing pills.
The UK offers additional regulations on top of everything the EU offers. British Pharmacies are regulated by the General Pharmaceutical Council and must display a seal from the body and be registered in its database. Additional regulation is regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) which inspects registered businesses once a year to check on the quality of health care provided. Any violations are publicly shared on the CQC website for all to see.
There are several things that can point out an illegitimate or fake online pharmacy. They include the following;
Be vigilant even when the online pharmacy appears to have a regulatory body’s seal. Some of these seals can be faked and the easiest way to check its validity is to click on it. The link should take you to the regulatory body’s website and the online pharmacy should be listed on the regulatory body’s site. Don’t trust a popup window with the certificate as these can be easily faked.
Unknown Country of Origin
A lot of online pharmacies are not really registered in the country they claim. Sometimes they will list an address that is fake on the website and sometimes they don’t provide an address. If the address listed on the site doesn’t really exist or leads to a residential home, the online pharmacy could be illegitimate.
Link to Organized Crime
Organized crime organizations have long derived their income from the sale of illegal prescription medications. There is more and more evidence of the presence of organized gangs in many online pharmacies. They are attracted to the online pharmacy space because of the easy profits and lower risk of arrest.
Fake or Counterfeit Drugs?
Counterfeit drugs present perhaps the biggest problem with online pharmacies. These fake drugs are often made to mimic a popular brand name with the pill and the packaging made to look exactly like the original. These products break intellectual property rights law and they also pose a great risk to the health of those using the pills.
Risks of Fake Pills
Fake pills often include ingredients that don’t appear in the real drug. Even if they are the same ingredients as the ones in the main drug, they can be in incorrect amounts. The wrong ingredients in the wrong amounts can be very detrimental to the health of individuals who take these drugs.
Because of the prevalence of fake medication online, it can be difficult to quantify the number of people who have been adversely affected by them. The World Health Organization (WHO) however does estimate that there are tens of thousands of deaths each year from the fake pills and the problem seems to be rising.
Low quality antibiotics also contribute to the antibiotic resistance epidemic in the world. These fake antibiotics and antibiotic resistant medication are believed to be responsible for the deaths of 72,000 and 169,000 children every year.
Counterfeit Drugs Entering Supply Chain
The problem of fake medication is prevalent even in countries with high regulation standards. The NHS in Britain has acknowledged that the problem does exist in the country due to the need for affordable medication. British patients seeking cheaper medication bought drugs from an intermediary abroad, but the drugs turned out to be fake.
Cost of Drugs in Different Countries
U.S. residents may have good regulation for online pharmacies, but the cost of medication is very high. You may therefore want to purchase medication from a country that does offer safety but affordable cost. For most U.S. patients Canada is the most logical choice although we must point out that there are a large number of fake pharmacies that claim to be located in Canada. European pharmacies are your next best bet.
You should however be wary of drug prices that seem too good to be true.
When buying medication online, the general rule of thumb is to pay attention to where the drugs are coming from. Some of the regulatory bodies we’ve highlighted here will also be very helpful. Check any online pharmacy against them to ensure that it is legitimate. Remember that the health cost of buying cheap or fake drugs could be far greater than the cost of the original drug. Check customer reviews about any online pharmacy.