October 31, 2012

FDA Warns Most Online Pharmacies Fake

Two topics have come to the fore in the last month. The first is online pharmacies and the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy and the Food and Drug Administration are both warning consumers about the dangers. The second and equally serious problem is the Compounding Pharmacies that are at present unregulated. This will be my topic for the next blog and I am focusing on online pharmacies in this blog.

Of the 10,065 online pharmacies in the NABP study, 9,734 -- 97% -- violated state or federal laws and/or NABP safety and practice standards.” This means that 331 online pharmacies may be legitimate or only 3 percent may be trustworthy. The FDA is right in issuing warnings that online pharmacies are an emerging health threat. Personally, I will never use an online pharmacy just because of the above. In addition, the many spammers employed by these people continue to fill my one email inbox and attempt to get their garbage through comment moderation on this blog. Thank goodness for the delete or spam key that is easy to use.

What is not surprising is that when they are found out, they just shut down the site and open another often before the other is shut down. They never miss an opportunity to pedal their snake oil. Many of these fake pharmacies are so good at what they do that it takes experts to discern the fake from the real drugs. The patients often do find out when they take the fake drugs and their medical condition worsens, or when they have to go to the emergency department for unknown causes. Unfortunately, some never make it to the emergency department, but to the morgue.

A group of interested companies has formed the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies. The founding members of the CSIP include American Express, Discover, eNom, Go Daddy, Google, MasterCard, Microsoft, Neustar, PayPal, Visa, and Yahoo. CSIP has an online pharmacy checker at safemedsonline.org, where consumers can check out and report rogue pharmacy web sites.”

The company in the list above I really must wonder about is Yahoo. It seems like Yahoo sells their email lists to these fake pharmacies as these make up the bulk of my spam emails along with another group of sites. This is unproven, but may be what happens.

Fake online pharmacy warning signs include many of the following - The FDA warns consumers to beware online pharmacies that:
1. Online pharmacies may offer low, low prices.
2. Allow you to buy drugs without a prescription from your doctor.
3. Offer deep discounts or cheap prices that seem too good to be true.
4. Send spam or unsolicited email offering cheap drugs.
5. Are located outside of the United States.
6. Are not licensed in the United States.

The following list may indicate a safe online pharmacy:
1. Always requires a doctor's prescription for prescription drugs.
2. Provides a physical address and telephone number in the U.S.
3. Has a pharmacist available to answer your questions.
4. Is licensed with your state's board of pharmacy.

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