The trend of internet shopping has taken hold in the medical sector. But if you are considering using an online service to purchase medications (whether OTC or prescription drugs), you need to be aware of the possible dangers of purchasing medication over the internet.
A quick online search for your medication will show several ads asking you to buy them online. Some ads also offer the opportunity to buy prescription medications in addition to over-the-counter drugs. The prices are usually lower than what you get from the neighbourhood pharmacy. This will empower you to protect yourself accordingly.
It’s important that you learn to recognize legal online pharmacies, and understand how to buy your medicines online without putting your health or your personal information at risk. Here’s what you need to know.
Ordering over the counter and prescription medications online, and from an unknown company is an unsafe practice. There are several well-known websites that operate legally whilst still offering the advantages of privacy, convenience, and safety that you need when purchasing drugs.
Recognising websites that offer to sell prescription drugs which have probably not been checked for safety or effectiveness is important. A rogue site often has unapproved drugs, drugs with wrong quantities of the active ingredient, or drugs with harmful substances. A false website might look professional, but it usually is an illegal operation.
The FDA was involved in a study where several products sold online as Tamiflu® (Oseltamivir) were found to instead contain talc and acetaminophen on analysis. Some people who placed online orders for some drug products (Zolpidem, alprazolam, escitalopram, and lorazepam) were instead given a foreign version of Haloperidol, a known antipsychotic drug.
These people wound up needing emergency medical care for various symptoms such as breathing difficulties, muscle spasms, muscle stiffness.
A website you can trust should have the following:
Always look out for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites Seal, (the NABP’s VIPPS seal) or visit the VIPPS website to find legal online pharmacies that you can trust.
If a website does any of the following, then you should proceed with caution when dealing with the website.
When you are about to be prescribed any new medication, get familiar with the processes involved with filling your prescription. Familiarize yourself with your medications – the colour, the shape, the texture, the smell, taste and any markings on the tablet or capsule.
Always comment to your pharmacist if you notice anything different about your supplied medication. Be fully aware of the risks associated with buying drugs online.
Counterfeit drugs can be harder for the average person to recognize because it is a deliberately fraudulent practice. Both generic and brand name medicines can be counterfeit and the identity of the source of the medication is usually mislabelled to deceive customers into thinking that the product is an authentic and approved drug.
In the US, the FDA is responsible for protecting the public from being exposed to the deleterious effects of places that distribute counterfeit medication. Several modern technologies are being used to identify and prevent counterfeit medication from getting to the general public, but to stay safe you need to practice safe online medication purchase.
It is your primary duty to protect yourself when buying medication online. When you use a rogue website, you place yourself at risk, your personal information which you have supplied is also at risk. The following practices will help you stay safe when buying medicines online.
The FDA has a consumer update, FDA 101: Health Fraud Awareness that provides a full range of information that can help you protect yourself from bogus health products and counterfeit drugs. You can read it if you plan to make a habit out of purchasing your medications online so you are better equipped to keep yourself safe. Purchasing medications online can be a safe and better alternative to having to run to a physical pharmacy every time you need a drug. Just stick to safety guidelines and you are sure to have a fulfilling online experience.