In an unprecedented but seemingly overdue move, the FDA launched a crackdown on fake online pharmacies, seizing nearly 100 and sending warning letters to more than 400 others. The letters were sent out to the more than 400 online pharmacies that were found to be engaging in illegal activity and that were in violation of the U.S. Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Among the many violations the FDA found include the sale of prescription drugs without a prescription, the sale of prescription drugs without directions for safe use or without the FDA-required warnings to consumers about the health risks these prescription drugs could be associated with.
The Risks of Buying Prescription Drugs Online
It took the FDA a while to respond to a problem the media and the pharmaceutical industry has been highlighting for a long time. None of the stakeholders takeaway the gift that ecommerce has given to the world of pharmaceuticals. Like every other product, the internet has made it easier for us to access and purchase the medication we need for the comfort of our homes. In fact, more and more people are buying the medication they need online, now more than ever. In fact a survey by CivicScience found that 11% of respondents said they purchased prescription drugs online.
But like with everything else that is online, the potential for fake online pharmacies has increased the risk of fake and sometimes highly dangerous prescription medication online. This problem was specifically highlighted in the NBC Connecticut report published in 2013. In the report, the investigative news team and Pfizer security experts detail how dangerous online prescription drugs can be with many lacking the main active ingredient that makes them effective. This means that when you buy an antibiotic from a fake online pharmacy, it is likely that it won’t work for the intended purpose and therefore failing to cure whatever ailment you were buying the drug for in the first place.
Even more alarming is the many different types of harmful ingredients that Pfizer found in these medications. These include strange ingredients like sheet rock, boric acid, road paint and talk, all ingredients that will do nothing for your ailment and may even escalate your symptoms. The report also makes it very clear that most buyers of these prescription drugs can’t be certain where the medication is even coming from which indicates that most prescription drugs online are fake.
Most Fake Drugs are for Erectile Dysfunction
The online pharmacy industry began as a way for men suffering from erectile dysfunction to purchase the medication they need discreetly. But over the years, the industry has grown to encompass some ED drugs that are marketed as the best and most effective or as herbal remedies or dietary supplements that can cure ED.
Most men who have had little success with prescription drugs for ED began buying these herbal remedies in an effort to find a more effective solution. The problem is that these “dietary supplements” have been proved to contain prescription drugs like sildenafil, the main active ingredient in Viagra. Some even contain drugs that are not traditionally used to treat ED including some really powerful antibiotics and even opioids.
The risks of taking too much of any medication can range from addiction to death, depending on the medication. But Pharmaceutical companies warn against buying medication online, sometimes not because of the low quality medication available online, but because they sell ED medication in local pharmacies at very high prices. You may benefit from low prices when you buy ED medication online, but you need to be very careful when choosing the online pharmacy to purchase the medication from.
How to Avoid Buying Fake Medication
So the question remains, how do we balance the convenience of buying medication online with avoiding fake prescription drugs? The FDA advises you to exercise a lot of caution when buying medication online. For every legitimate online pharmacy that sells valid prescription drugs and offers convenience, safety and privacy when purchasing prescriptions online, there are 10 fake pharmacies that only claim to.
Rising drug prices are a problem in the United States and in an attempt to counteract this problem, many Americans have fallen victim to fake online pharmacies that promise deep discounts. The problem is most of them sell fake prescription drugs that may be ineffective or even dangerous.
The FDA also points out that many of these fake online pharmacies will display the Canadian flag in an attempt to try and convince buyers they operate in Canada. The reality, however is that many of these pharmacies have little or no connection to Canada and are often run by criminal organizations around the world.
Here’s what to avoid when buying medications online:
- You should be wary when an online pharmacy allows you to buy prescription medications without a valid prescription from your doctor.
- Ask whether the website has certificates and licenses from regulatory bodies like CIPA (Canadian International Pharmacy Association), NABP (National Association of Boards of Pharmacy), General Pharmaceutical Council and MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency).
- Are some of the prices significantly lower than the market price? If there is more than a 90% discount and the price seems too good to be true, you should be wary.
- Do they send you spam emails offering you cheap medication?
There are several reasons why you shouldn’t buy medication from these online pharmacies but the FDA points out that the main reason is some may contain wrong or harmful ingredients, leading to ineffective treatment of the disease or condition for which you are taking that medication. This can lead to a more aggressive and drug-resistant forms of the illness which could be potentially fatal.
The next time you choose to purchase medication online, pharmacists recommends using pharmacy review and customer review sites to do your own research and find the right and legitimate online pharmacy to purchase medication from.