Online Purchasing of Medications-Let the Buyer Be Aware

No one knows what the Affordable Care Act will provide in the near future. One thing we know for sure is that the cost of prescription medicine will continue to rise. As a result many Americans are buying their medications online and overseas.

Though technically illegal, millions of Americans buy prescription drugs from overseas pharmacies to save money. But the practice can be a huge gamble.
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, a professional group, reviewed over 10,000 Internet drug outlets and found that many sold fake or unapproved drugs. Some that claimed to be Canadian pharmacies actually sold medicines from developing countries where regulations are weak and counterfeit drugs are common.

Only 2 to 3 percent of online pharmacies are legitimate. When buying Canadian look for outlets certified by the Canadian International Pharmacy Association, a trade group of Canadian pharmacies, or those certified by PharmacyChecker.com, a free website that verifies that the foreign sites it approves protect consumer information and meet quality standards.

A study analyzing 372 orders of five popular prescription drugs – Lipitor, Celebrex, Viagra, Nexium and Zoloft – that were purchased from 79 domestic and foreign online drug outlets. Products bought from Canadian or other foreign sites certified by C.I.P.A. or PharmacyChecker.com were of high quality. So were products ordered from American sites verified by either the N.A.B.P. or LegitScript.com, a certification agency founded by a former White House aide on drug policy issues.

But that was not the case for sites that were not certified by any of these four groups. Many of the drugs they sold were fakes, including about a quarter of the Viagra samples, which largely appeared to have originated in China.

You can’t be 100% certain with any sites, frankly, but you are running a much lower risk if you buy from a credentialed site.

Bottom Line: You get what you pay for. If it’s significantly cheaper, there’s probably reason for the decreased cost. I suggest you buy drugs, like heart drugs, blood pressure medication, and medication for treating diabetes, from credible and reliable sources.

This article was excerpted from an article, Is it Safe To Buy Drugs From Online Pharmacies In Canada? by Anhad O’Connor, NYT, November 12, 2013

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