Acknowledging and responding to many consumers who were purchasing their prescription medications over the internet, the FDA produced a brochure to help consumers safely use the numerous websites, located both in the United States and internationally, offering to sell prescription drugs directly to the public.
The FDA warns that some of the websites that offer and sell prescription medications are not real pharmacies, are not licensed pharmacies in the United States, may provide diagnoses that are wrong and sell drugs that are inappropriate, unnecessary, or dangerous for consumers’ medical conditions, and/or may not protect personal information provided to the websites by consumers.
The FDA further warns that some websites sell drugs that are counterfeit (fake drugs), are of the wrong potency (either too weak or too strong), include dangerous and/or contaminated ingredients, are expired, are not approved for safety and efficacy by the FDA, are made without safe standards and proper manufacturing techniques, are unsafe or inappropriate for use with other drugs or substances being used by the purchaser, and/or are not properly labeled, stored, or shipped.
The FDA recommends that only websites for licensed pharmacies in the United States be used (pharmacies are licensed by state boards of pharmacies: the state boards of pharmacies can be found on the website of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP)). The FDA further advises that the website itself should be located in the United States, that a U.S.-licensed pharmacist be available through the website to answer questions, that a prescription from an appropriately licensed medical professional in the United States be required, and that the website provide a person to be available to answer questions if there are problems.
When prescription medications are obtained through local pharmacies, the patient’s personal information is usually well-protected. However, when drugs are purchased over the internet, it is important to inquire how personal information such as name, credit card information, Social Security number, and medical information will be safely and securely stored, how and when the information will be used, how it may be shared with others, and whether your personal information will be shared with or sold to others. The websites should clearly state the policies, procedures, and promises regarding how your information will remain safe and private.
The FDA provides several ways for the public to report a website that is illegally selling human drugs, animal drugs, medical devices, biological products, foods, dietary supplements, or cosmetics over the internet. Click here to connect to the FDA website to report such suspected illegal activities.
If a counterfeit or bad drug caused injury or death, a claim for compensation may be warranted. Please visit our website to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your local area who may be able to investigate your possible claim and represent you, if appropriate.
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