By Cara Murez
Health Day Reporter
FRIDAY, Nov. 18, 2022 (HealthDay News) — It may be tempting to buy prescription drugs online, but shoppers should beware, the US Food and Drug Administration warns.
While some pharmacy websites can operate legally and offer convenience, privacy, and lower costs, others may sell unapproved, counterfeit, and unsafe drugs, the FDA advises.
There are many unsafe online pharmacies that offer prescription drugs without a prescription and sell them at “significantly reduced” prices.
These pharmacies may use fake “storefronts” designed to mimic licensed pharmacies. According to the FDA, they can imply or say that their drugs come from countries with high safety standards.
However, what they sell could be manufactured anywhere without safety or efficacy. The drugs could also be counterfeit or expired.
Be careful if the online pharmacy doesn’t require a doctor’s prescription, the FDA warned. Other Red Flags: The pharmacy is not licensed in the United States or by your state pharmacy board and does not have a licensed pharmacist on staff to answer questions.
You should also be on the lookout for medications that look different than what you get at your usual pharmacy, arrive in damaged packaging, are labeled in a foreign language, have no expiration date, or have expired.
A price that seems too good to be true is another red flag.
An unsafe online pharmacy may not provide clear written protections to protect your personal and financial information, may charge you for products you never ordered or received, or sell your information to others.
The medicines from these pharmacies may contain too much or too little of the active ingredient that is treating your condition. They may contain another active ingredient or a pollutant.
These drugs may not help you, but they can also have unexpected interactions with other drugs you’re taking, cause an allergic reaction, or have a dangerous side effect. They may not have been stored properly, which could affect their effectiveness.
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 phone number in the United States, and has a licensed pharmacist on staff to answer your questions.
This online pharmacy should be licensed with a state pharmacy board. You can verify the pharmacy’s license in the State Pharmacy Council’s license database using the location tool on the FDA’s BeSafeRx website. Do not use a pharmacy that is not listed.
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy is looking deeper into the closure of illegal online pharmacies.
SOURCE: US Food and Drug Administration, press release, November 16, 2022