The U.S. Food and Drug Administration launched a new campaign on Friday, Sept. 28, 2012 to warn consumers that buying drugs online may be harmful to their health. The national campaign called BeSafeRx will be used to alert the public to the danger of shopping online for drugs even though it may save them money. Instead of savings, they might be getting fake drugs that contain no active ingredient, contaminated, toxic or past the expiration date.
The FDA recently surveyed Internet users and found that 29 percent stated that they really didn’t know how to purchase prescription drugs online safely, but 20 percent stated that they still use the Internet to buy the medications. Since online pharmacies can operate without worrying about the federal and state safeguards in the United States, they can pretty much do what they want. Those safeguards, according to the FDA, protect the public from unsafe and unsuitable medications.
The public has no idea what might actually be in those medications they purchase on the Internet. They could even contain rat poison or arsenic and sicken and kill people. These drugs might cause people to build up a resistance to the real medication or trigger unsafe interactions with the other medications they are taking.
Of all the websites that were reviewed, only 3 percent looked as if they met state and federal pharmacy laws according to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy which is the organization that is responsible for licensing pharmacies. According to the FDA’s news release, it can be very hard for people to know if an online pharmacy is legitimate. Many of the pharmacy’s websites look genuine and they also utilize credible marketing ploys like extremely low prices.
“Our goal is to increase awareness,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg told The Associated Press, “not to scare people away from online pharmacies. We want them to use appropriate pharmacies.” She also stated, “Fraudulent online pharmacies often offer deep discounts. If the low prices seem too good to be true, they probably are.”
The new website is located at www.FDA.gov/BeSafeRx. The public can go to the website and research how to decide if a pharmacy online is legitimate. The site also includes information about the dangers of unsafe Internet pharmacies, how to determine if an online pharmacy is illegal and links to state lists of licensed online pharmacies.
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