FDA Warns of Dangerous Online Pharmacies in BeSafeRx

U.S. Food and Drug Administration announces BeSafeRx campaign

Do you shop for your prescription medicines online?  Are you sure you’re getting what you bargained for?  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced today their new national BeSafeRx campaign.  BeSafeRx was launched to warn Americans of the dangers of purchasing their prescription drugs online.

According to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, only 3% of online pharmacies actually followed state or federal pharmaceutical regulations.  This means 97% of online pharmacies did not.  In an age where the internet offers increased convenience and rock bottom prices, this is disturbing news.  In response, the FDA wants to encourage people to shop at pharmacies they can trust. 

"Our goal is to increase awareness," FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg told the Associated Press, "not to scare people away from online pharmacies. We want them to use appropriate pharmacies."

The dangers associated with using online pharmacies are great.  There is no guarantee that the drugs you intend to purchase are actually what you’ll receive.  Instead, you may find the following:

·         Fake drugs

·         Contaminated drugs

·         Drugs past their prescription

·         Drugs with the wrong active ingredients

·         Drugs with too high or too low an active ingredient

·         Toxic or poisonous drugs containing arsenic, rat poison

Purchasing these potentially dangerous drugs could lead to death.

Who purchases their drugs online?

Given the inherent dangers of purchasing mystery drugs from mystery purveyors, one has to wonder who purchases drugs online.  According to the FDA, of over 6,000 Americans surveyed, 1 in 4 admitted to purchasing their drugs online. If the sample size is indicative of larger American trends, that means roughly 25% of Americans purchase their questionable medications online.

Interestingly, when asked about their confidence level and trust, only 3 in 10 responded they weren’t confident the purchase was safe.  That means 70% of respondents felt purchasing drugs online was safe.  This is the target group for the BeSafeRx campaign.  The FDA would like to educate that 70% of Americans who are unaware of the severe risks of purchasing their medications online.

How to spot a potentially dangerous online pharmacy

There are some common warning signs that can help you as a consumer spot a potentially dangerous pharmacy:

·         Site allows you to purchase medication without a prescription

·         Prescriptions are administered after answering a series of questions online (this is illegal!)

·         Prices are rock bottom and the discounts are steep if you purchase now

·         Located outside of the United States

·         Not licensed in the United States

If you’ve been injured by harmful/ fake medications

If you’ve been injured after purchasing questionable medications on the internet, seek immediate medical attention.  Do not wait.  Go straight to the emergency room.  Bring the prescription medication with you and be honest with your doctor about where you obtained the medication.  Explain the symptoms you have experienced in great detail.

If an online pharmacy has injured you, you may be entitled to compensation.  Consult an attorney to review your legal rights.