Looking for Deals, Consumers May Be Getting Bad Drugs at Online Pharmacy

Better prices and added convenience are attractive lures for many to the online pharmacy. However, consumers may be unknowingly putting themselves in danger. The FDA recently issued a warning to consumers stating that most of these Internet drug stores are fraudulent and are likely selling counterfeit drugs that can be very harmful. The FDA’s BeSafeRx national campaign, seeks to educate Americans that instead of purchasing their prescription medication at a discount, online pharmacies could be selling dangerous contaminated drugs. Some have been found to be past their expiration date, contain no active ingredient altogether or the wrong combination of ingredients. They have also discovered some of some fraudulent drugs contain toxic arsenic and rat poison.

How can you tell if you are buying medication from an appropriate pharmacy?

•    The pharmacy is located in the U.S (avoid "Canadian pharmacy" and any non-U.S. pharmacies)
•    It is licensed by the pharmacy board in your state
•    A licensed pharmacists is available to answer any questions
•    The pharmacy must require a valid doctor’s prescription

Any pharmacy, especially online, that tells you no prescription is necessary is breaking the law. To check if your pharmacy is properly licensed and safe to buy medication from, the FDA provides a national state by state database on their website.

According to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, of the thousands of online pharmacies, only 3 percent adhere to state and federal laws.  However, according to the FDA, one in four online shoppers has purchased drugs online, with only 30 percent confident it was safe to do so. "If the low prices seem too good to be true, they probably are,” says FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg.

Be an educated and safe consumer, whether that is online or not.  If you have questions, contact the FDA directly 1-888-463-6332 or druginfo@fda.hhs.gov.

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