Buying medications online can be a huge gamble, unless you know what you’re doing. Thousands of fake pharmacies are at work, many of them trying to pass themselves off as legitimate while they operate beyond the reach of US authorities.
Even pharmacies that seem to be based in the US or Canada sometimes are not, and they may even use names similar to legitimate and established retailers like Walgreens and CVS.
In just one month last year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Cybercrime’s Investigation Unit shut down almost 1,700 illegal pharmacy websites but the agency fears there may be as many as 60,000 such sites.
The products the fake operators sell may be stolen, counterfeit, useless or downright dangerous, depending on what they’re made of. Some sites also list offers designed to attract new customers, such as commissions or bonuses for referrals, or bonus extra pills with purchases.
Furthermore, consumers who use these sites also face non-healthrelated risks such as identity theft, computer viruses, and credit card fraud.
“Consumers are able to buy prescription drugs, unapproved drugs and potentially counterfeit drugs without a full understanding of the risks that they take when they do that,” says John Roth, FDA anti-crime director. “What worries me is that people naively believe that these medicines are safe.”
Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to avoid these crooks by finding legit online pharmacies. But don’t expect to get the big price cuts or the drugs without prescriptions that the illegal pharmacies offer.
You’ll find a list of licensed pharmacies via the state board of pharmacy. Start here: http://tinyurl.com/FDA-pharm-list Licensed pharmacies also require a prescription, provide US-based contact details and offer access to a licensed pharmacist for advice. If a site doesn’t have these features, or tries to solicit business via spam emails, it’s almost certainly a fake and you risk losing your money and your health.
The FDA runs an ongoing campaign called Be Safe Rx. Get more details and more information on the risks, the danger signs and safe practices from: http://tinyurl.com/Safe-Rx