The Dangers Of Online Pharmacies
September 30, 2012

New FDA Website Warns About Dangers Of Buying Prescription Drugs Online

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has launched a new Internet campaign warning consumers about the risks surrounding fraudulent online pharmacies pushing dangerous, counterfeit drugs, the agency announced on Friday.

The "BeSafeRx: Know Your Online Pharmacy" initiative came about following an FDA survey that discovered that approximately 25% of all consumers had purchased prescription drugs online, but that 30% of them had doubts about the safety of purchasing such medicines on the Internet, CNN Medical Senior Producer Saundra Young explained in a blog post.

According to Young, the FDA is advising consumers to only purchase prescription drugs from online pharmacies that are based in the US, require valid prescriptions from doctors or other health care professionals, are licensed by that patient's state board of pharmacy and have a licensed pharmacist employed to answer questions.

"Our goal is to increase awareness, not to scare people away from online pharmacies," FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg told Linda Johnson of the Associated Press (AP). "We want them to use appropriate pharmacies."

Often times, the convenience factor of ordering online and the lower prices promised by Internet pharmacies are what attract patients to these services. Because of this, many websites falsely claim to be operating out of Canada -- where prescription drugs are less expensive -- whether or not they actually are stationed there.

Johnson explains that sometimes the drugs sold by these companies can be tainted by poisons or other substances, beyond their expiration date or comprised of the incorrect amount of the active ingredient. As a result, they could cause people to fall ill, develop a resistance to the actual medication or cause new side effects to pop up, perhaps due to interactions with other drugs.

Essentially, Hamburg said, "if the low prices seem too good to be true, they probably are."

Hence the reason the agency opted to launch the "BeSafeRx: Know Your Online Pharmacy" campaign.

"The FDA is collaborating with several other federal agencies and departments and even Interpol in the campaign, Hamburg said, and it has asked medical and pharmaceutical industry groups to join in. It's also reaching out to doctors, pharmacists and medical facilities to spread the word," Johnson said. "They'll get access to materials they can download, from patient fact sheets and discussion guides to sample blog items and web banners for a practice's own website. There's also a list of tips to help doctors determine if a patient may be buying medicine online."