FDA Launches Awareness Campaign Against Fake Online Pharmacies

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Have you gone online to purchase medication? How did you feel – secure in the transaction, or nervous and doubtful? If so, you’re not alone, for the FDA has launched a campaign to help raise consumer awareness  and help people purchase their medications only from legitimate sources.

The recent proliferation of scam sites online has the FDA increasingly worried that patients in need of proper medications may be buying pills with incorrect dosages, the wrong ingredients, or no medical benefit at all.  These fake online sites are being designed with increasingly better attention to authentic details that can trick even the most discriminating consumer, which is why the FDA has stepped in.

BeSafeRx – Know Your Online Pharmacy

Toward that end, the FDA has launched BeSafeRx – Know Your Online Pharmacy as a resource for people looking to check on whether the site they’re about to purchase medication from is legit or not. It has information on the vendor, and helps them understand if the offered medication is actually what their doctor prescribed for them to take. Why all this fear? According to National Association of Boards of Pharmacy statistics, only one in thirty three online pharmacies met the state and federal law requirements.

When reached for comment, the FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, M.D. stated:

"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. Fraudulent and illegal online pharmacies often offer deeply discounted products. If the low prices seem too good to be true, they probably are. FDA's BeSafeRx campaign is designed to help patients learn how to avoid these risks."

Safety Guidelines

The FDA has issued a series of guidelines to help people navigate the shark infested waters of online prescription medicine vendors. They are advised to only purchase medication from vendors located within the USA, to only purchase from pharmacies that insist on receiving a prescription from a doctor or authorized health professional first, and to check that the pharmacy has a state board of pharmacy license. No matter how legitimate the site may otherwise be, a lack of any of one of these three items should immediately raise red flags.

The dangers arise from the fact that the USA can only regulate pharmacies within the boundaries of our nation. If a pharmacy is located within a country that has loose regulations, they can claim on their site to be located in the US, and then ship you drugs that may or may not be what you require. They may or may not have their own doctor on call who inspects orders to ensure they are correct, and who ensures that the right drug is being sent out. Without this system of checks, a patient can put their health at serious risk by taking whatever drug gets sent to them.

Why People Purchase From Scam Sites

The reasons that so many consumers fall for these online scams are numerous. These fake sites often post attractively low prices, ranging from 50% to 80% lower than what can be found on legitimate online sites.

Further, patients whose doctors have failed to renew their prescriptions may order from any online site out of desperation, allowing their addiction to place them at great risk. In addition, the designers of these sites are unscrupulous, and don’t hesitate to place all kinds of fake certifications, licenses, and testaments about their supposed validity.

That is why the FDA is insisting that people begin to check the site’s URL and licenses against the database available on their site, and to stop spending money and risking their health on these thousands of fake sites that are seeking to profit at their expense.

Photo courtesy of GenBug and Keturah Stickann

Phil Tucker is a health and wellness blogger who believes in doing the best workouts and eating the healthiest food.

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