Beware rogue pharmacies

We’re all buying products via the Internet these days. Even medications. It’s easy, and online merchants frequently offer bargain prices. Many of us are trying this route for relief from high drug costs. Unfortunately, a study by the National Association of Pharmacy Boards revealed that more than 60% of medicines purchased online are fake or substandard.

Buyer beware! If a drug costs less, it may be because the pill has less of the active ingredient. Or no active ingredient. Medical counterfeiters do not care about consumer health or safety. If your loved one is purchasing medicines online, he or she could actually be going without treatment! Or getting a fake drug with a different but related active ingredient. It may appear to help. But it was not the drug the doctor prescribed. And it could result in unanticipated side effects.

Serious consequences. Worse yet, counterfeit drugs may include harmful chemicals. These can be extremely dangerous. Some consumers have ended up in the emergency room needing treatment for ingesting chemicals they weren’t aware they were taking!

How to spot a rogue pharmacy

Here are signs of a faker:

  • The pharmacy is not based in the United States. (China and India are the worst offenders.)
  • The price is significantly lower than standard cost in the United States.
  • A prescription from a doctor is not needed. (Many rogue pharmacies will provide medicine on the basis of an Internet questionnaire.)
  • They sell controlled substances (e.g., opioids).
  • There is no published telephone number.
  • There is no pharmacist to talk with.

Check before you buy

There are legitimate Internet pharmacies. The National Association of Pharmacy Boards has created the website (Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites). It lists only fully licensed U.S. pharmacies. There is a similar Canadian website at