By Kara Morris
FRIDAY, Nov. 18, 2022 (HealthDay News) — It may be tempting to buy prescription drugs online, but buyers should beware, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises that while some pharmacy locations operate legally and can offer convenience, privacy, and lower costs, others may sell unauthorized, counterfeit, and unsafe medications.
Many unsafe online pharmacies exist, offering prescription medications over the counter and selling them at “super-discounted” prices.
These pharmacies may use fake “storefronts” designed to imitate licensed pharmacies. They may indicate or say that their medications come from countries with high safety standards, according to the FDA.
However, what they sell can be made anywhere without safety or effectiveness. Medications can also be counterfeit or expired.
If your online pharmacy does not require a doctor’s prescription, the US Food and Drug Administration warned. Other red flags: The pharmacy is not licensed in the United States or by your state’s Board of Pharmacy and does not have a licensed pharmacist on staff to answer questions.
You should also beware of medications that look different than what you receive at your usual pharmacy, arrive in damaged packages, are labeled in a foreign language, have no expiration date, or are expired.
A price that seems too good to be true is another warning sign.
An unsecured online pharmacy may not provide clear written safeguards about protecting your personal and financial information, may charge you for products you never ordered or received, or may sell your information to others.
Medicines from these pharmacies may contain too much or too little of the active ingredients that treat your condition. It may contain a different active ingredient or harmful substance.
These medications may fail to help you but they may also have an unexpected interaction with other medications you are taking, cause an allergic reaction or have dangerous side effects. It may not have been stored properly, which could render it ineffective.
Despite all these problems, it is still possible to find a safe online pharmacy.
The FDA suggests looking for one that always requires a doctor’s prescription, provides a physical address and telephone number in the United States, and has a licensed pharmacist on staff to answer your questions.
This online pharmacy must be licensed by a state board of pharmacy. You can check pharmacy licensure in your state’s pharmacy licensing database using the location tool on the FDA’s BeSafeRx website. Do not use a pharmacy that is not listed.
The National Association of Pharmacy Boards is making more efforts to shut down illegal online pharmacies.
Source: US Food and Drug Administration press release, November 16, 2022