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New York City
June 2001

Buying Prescription Drugs Online? Caveat Emptor

With hundreds of drug-dispensing websites in business, how can consumers tell which sites are legitimate? The FDA warns of the dangers of purchasing medical products online. These drugs run the risk of being contaminated or counterfeit product, the wrong product, an incorrect dose or no product at all from an illegal website. Taking an unsafe or inappropriate medication puts you at risk for dangerous drug interactions and other serious health consequences.

Getting a prescription drug by filling out a questionnaire without seeing a doctor poses serious health risks. A questionnaire does not provide sufficient information for a health-care professional to determine if that drug is for you or safe to use, if another treatment is more appropriate, or if you have an underlying medical condition where using that drug may be harmful. The American Medical Association has determined that this practice is generally substandard medical care and the FDA agrees.

The FDA recommends that consumers check with the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (www.nabp.net, 847-698-6227) to determine whether a website is a licensed pharmacy in good standing. Donít buy from sites that offer to prescribe a prescription drug for the first time without a physical exam, sell a prescription drug without a prescription or sell drugs not approved by FDA.

Donít do business with sites that have no access to a registered pharmacist to answer questions, and avoid sites that do not provide a U.S. address and phone number to contact if thereís a problem. Donít purchase from foreign websites at this time because generally it will be illegal to import the drugs bought from these sites, and there is very little the U.S. government can do if you get ripped off.

Be careful of sites that use impressive-sounding terminology to disguise a lack of good science, or those that claim the government, the medical profession or research scientists have conspired to suppress a product. Especially, steer clear of sites that include undocumented case histories claiming ďamazingĒ results.

Consumers who suspect that a site is illegal can report it to the FDA.

 

Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel: (212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email: ednews1@aol.com.
All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of the publisher. © 2001.




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