Rogue Internet drug sellers are widespread and the problem is growing. The criminals that operate these illegal websites make millions of dollars each month peddling counterfeit and otherwise illegitimate medicine to unsuspecting patients. As a result, patients are just a click away from dangerous or even deadly consequences.
As the holiday season draws near, beware of what you buy online. “Too good to be true” prices and claims of legitimacy are usually ploys to lure you to buy. And when you do, you give your personal and financial information (credit cards, home address, etc.) to criminals, and put your health in their hands.
A Real Patient’s Story
According to the Partnership for Safe Medicines, Rachael Jablo, a San Francisco resident, reported her doctor at the University of California-San Francisco suggested she visit an online “Canadian pharmacy” to save money on an antibiotic that costs $1,000 for a two week cycle. Rachael represents just one patient who was misled. This particular online rogue drug seller was not a licensed pharmacy and it was operating from Canada. It shipped medications from Turkey and Singapore, and the drugs themselves could have been created anywhere around the world. She was faced with a decision that could have resulted in a life-threatening cost.
There is no guarantee that drug products bought online are effective, authentic or even safe. Patients shopping online must be vigilant to avoid rogue Internet drug sellers. The Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies, a nonprofit that works globally to protect patients online, offers these tips:
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. How do I know if an Internet pharmacy is safe?
It is difficult to recognize a rogue Internet “pharmacy” website from a legitimate pharmacy website. In fact, these rogue online drug sellers go to great lengths to look like a legitimate US pharmacy website. If a doctor or pharmacist can be fooled, so can you! To make sure your pharmacy is legitimate, you can use the tools below:
→ Check the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s (NABP) Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites list, or
→ Check LegitScript’s website URL verification tool (endorsed by NABP) where you can enter the online website to check legitimacy, and
→ Learn more about how to protect yourself from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “Know Your Online Pharmacy” website.
Use these tools to keep your friends and family from purchasing potentially life-threatening medicine through the Internet.
2. How do I protect myself when purchasing medicine online?
Make sure your online pharmacy is legitimate using the online tools listed above. Safe online pharmacies should display a physical address and telephone number in the United States, and require a valid prescription from your doctor.
And remember – buying medicines from illegitimate “pharmacy” websites puts your health at risk and may also threaten your identity and place your financial safety at risk. By purchasing medicine on these sites, criminals have the ability to steal valuable personal financial information too. Stay safe. Make sure your online pharmacy is legitimate. Use the tools above to assure that your medications are provided through a US state licensed pharmacy.
3. My neighbor purchases his prescriptions online. Is he at risk?
Education is empowerment. Protect your family and friends by starting a conversation to protect their safety. Some online pharmacies are legitimate and safe, but a large number are look-alike sites that are illegitimate, and often run by international criminal networks that prey on consumers. Don’t allow your loved ones to fall victim to these scams.
4. I am a price-conscious shopper. How do I purchase affordable medicine online?
There are plenty of options to purchase affordable medication without compromising your health. Drug companies and nonprofit organizations offer programs to provide patients safe access to medicines. Visit NeedyMeds for affordable, safe, authentic medication programs. It could save your life.
The Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP) a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting patient safety globally and ensuring patient access to safe and legitimate online pharmacies in accordance with applicable laws.