The dangers of buying prescription drugs online
Can cheaper prices online really mean you’re getting a good deal? A study done by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy found that 95 percent of websites selling prescription drugs online are doing so illegally. Ivanhoe has details on what people should be on the lookout for when buying prescription drugs online.
From 2006 to 2017, the prices for most chronic-use name brand prescription drugs have soared 214 percent, leading many people to go online to buy their medication cheaper.
Gary Warner, Director of Research and computer Forensics, UAB stated, “An easy availability for anyone to go online and purchase these drugs even in bulk quantities and have them shipped directly to their home.”
“What people think they’re taking is not what they are taking. Just in Arizona, they seized over 350,000 fentanyl pills that were labeled as oxycontin,” Warner continued.
But now researchers at UAB are partnering with Facebook to crack down on these illicit drug sales, especially when it comes to opioid use. The team has developed an algorithm that can recognize the newest slang for street drugs, such as fentanyl, and automatically flag the content for removal so users can’t get them. They’ve also been cracking down on fake online pharmacies. So how can you tell what’s fake from real?
“The thing you want to look for when buying your drugs online are do they really require a prescription?” shared Elizabeth Gardner, PhD, Director Graduate Studies in Forensic Science, UAB.
If not, then that could be a sign that the pharmacy you are working with is not legitimate. Some other tips: they should have FDA approval. Even a generic drug needs one. Check where the webpage is located and for how long it’s been around. Some anti-phishing software, such as Netcraft allows users to see exactly where the website is based. And always make sure instructions on how to take the drug are included in the packaging. If you don’t have that ….
“You’re not getting the information you need,” Gardner explained.
Remember consumers can not only put their health at risk buying prescription drugs online, but they can also be charged with a felony. Buying drugs without a prescription or using a prescription from an illegitimate cyber doctor, where there is not an in-person doctor-patient interaction, is not considered legitimate under the law.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that there are many rogue online pharmacies that claim to sell prescription medicines at deeply discounted prices, often without requiring a valid prescription.
These pharmacies often sell unapproved or counterfeit medicines outside the safeguards followed by licensed pharmacies. These rogue sites often prominently display a Canadian flag but may actually be operated by criminals from the other side of the globe with no connection to Canada.
Some ways to identify a safe online pharmacy is that they require a valid prescription from a doctor or another licensed health care professional, are licensed by your state board of pharmacy, or equivalent state agency, and has a U.S. state-licensed pharmacist available to answer your questions.
Another way to check on a website is to look for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s (NABP) Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice SitesTM Seal. This seal means that the internet pharmacy is safe to use because it has met state licensure requirements, as well as other NABP criteria.