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Buying medicine over the Internet can make life a lot easier. Medicines on the Internet are sometimes cheaper. Your pills are delivered to your door.
Unfortunately, there are many dishonest online drugstores—and it can be hard to tell the honest ones from the dishonest ones. So you need to be very careful when you're buying medicines online.
You can safely buy medicine online if you use online pharmacies recommended by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. This organization verifies Internet drugstores throughout the United States and most Canadian provinces.
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy has created a website at www.awarerx.org. You can visit this site to find out which online drugstores are recommended and which aren't.
It's also safe to buy medicine through your health insurance company's website.
Don't trust an online drugstore if:1
You could end up buying pills that hurt rather than help.
A research project by the European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines found that more than half the drugs bought online as part of the project were either fake or were too strong or too weak.2
Criminals who sell drugs online have one goal: to make money. So they often focus on medicines that are in demand. Examples include:2
Many fake drugs are expertly packaged. They look like the real thing, but they may have been made under very dirty conditions. And they may contain ingredients like chalk, sugar, and flour instead of the medicine you need. In the worst cases, a fake pill will contain drugs or chemicals that could harm you.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2010). Buying Prescription Medicine Online: A Consumer Safety Guide. Available online: http://www.fda.gov/drugs/resourcesforyou/ucm080588.htm.
European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines (2008). The Counterfeiting Superhighway. Hampton Court, Surrey, England: Medicom Group. Also available online: http://www.eaasm.eu/Media_Centre/News/The_Counterfeiting_Superhighway.
Other Works Consulted
National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (2011). Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program: Progress Report for State and Federal Regulators. Available online: http://www.nabp.net/programs/assets/IDOI_Report_10-11.pdf.
World Health Organization (2010). Medicines: Spurious/falsely-labelled/falsified/counterfeit (SFFC) medicines (Fact Sheet No. 275). Available online: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs275/en.
May 14, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Theresa O'Young, PharmD - Clinical Pharmacy
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