On­line: Are My Medicines Safe?

Wellness Update - - Front Page -

When it comes to buy­ing pre­scrip­tion medicines on­line, it's bet­ter to be safe than sorry.

Your On­line Phar­macy, BeSafeRx: a new pub­lic Know ed­u­ca­tion and Drug cam­paign Ad­min­is­tra­tion by the (FDA), U.S. Food is aimed at help­ing con­sumers un­der­stand and min­i­mize the risks of buy­ing medicines on­line. In a re­cent FDA sur­vey of In­ter­net users, 29 per­cent of par­tic­i­pants re­ported ed they are un­sure how to safely buy medicines on­line. Still, more than 20 per­cent of re­spon­dents re­ported us­ing the In­ter­net to buy pre­scrip­tion medicines. The In­ter­net makes it eas­ier for fraud­u­lent and il­le­gal on­line pharmacies to sell medicines to Amer­i­can con­sumers out­side the sys­tem of fed­eral and state safe­guards that pro­tect pa­tients from in­ap­pro­pri­ate or un­safe medicines. Medicines you pur­chase from fraud­u­lent on­line pharmacies may put your health, or the health of your fam­ily, at risk. "Many on­line con­sumers may not re­al­ize that they're buy­ing from a fraud­u­lent, il­le­gal on­line phar­macy— and that the medicines they may re­ceive could be coun­ter­feit, con­tam­i­nated, con­tain the wrong ac­tive in­gre­di­ent, or not ap­proved by FDA," says FDA phar­ma­cist, Con­nie Jung, RPh., Ph.D. Medicines pur­chased from fraud­u­lent on­line pharmacies may con­tain no ac­tive in­gre­di­ent. (The ac­tive in­gre­di­ents in medicines are re­spon­si­ble for their ef­fects.) It's also pos­si­ble that they'll have too much or too lit­tle of the ac­tive in­gre­di­ent or the wrong in­gre­di­ent en­tirely. Th­ese medicines may also be con­tam­i­nated with harm­ful sub­stances, or be past their ex­pi­ra­tion dates. As a re­sult, says Jung, you may not re­ceive the ther­apy you need. And, you may ex­pe­ri­ence un­ex­pected side ef­fects and pos­si­bly get worse.

Some Red Flags

Ac­cord­ing to the National As­so­ci­a­tion of Boards of Phar­macy (NABP), the pro­fes­sional or­ga­ni­za­tion that rep­re­sents the state boards of phar­macy (or equiv­a­lent state agen­cies) that are re­spon­si­ble for li­cens­ing pharmacies, only 3 per­cent of on­line web­sites re­viewed ap­pear to meet state and fed­eral phar­macy laws. It's some­times hard to tell that a web­site isn't trust­wor­thy, says Jung. Many fraud­u­lent on­line sell­ers use con­vinc­ing mar­ket­ing ef­forts and de­velop web­sites that look le­git­i­mate. Even care­ful con­sumers may be fooled. FDA is pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion through its BeSafeRx cam­paign to help con­sumers iden­tify and avoid fraud­u­lent phar­macy web­sites. FDA Com­mis­sioner Mar­garet Ham­burg, M.D., says, "Fraud­u­lent on­line pharmacies of­ten of­fer deep dis­counts. If the low prices seem too good to be true, they prob­a­bly are. BeSafeRx is de­signed to help pa­tients learn how to avoid th­ese risks and safely buy medicine on­line." Jung also warns con­sumers not to be tempted by the much lower prices than those charged for pre­scrip­tion drugs by a le­git­i­mate phar­macy. "They are a sure sign of a fraud­u­lent, il­le­gal on­line phar­macy, and the medicines you are get­ting could be harm­ful," Jung says.

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