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FDA Warns Against Fake Online Pharmacies

The Federal Food and Drug Administration says fewer than 3 percent of online pharmacies comply with federal and state laws,

perscription canister with pills

Photo: Marko Javorac (Flickr)

The FDA warns that medicine from online pharmacies can be dangerous to a patient's health.

A review of 10,000 online pharmacies shows fewer than 3 percent comply with federal and state laws, according to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.

Many unlicensed online pharmacies originate in foreign countries, making it tougher for U.S. authorities to shut them down. FDA Office of Compliance Director Ilisa Bernstein says buying medication from fraudulent pharmacies can be incredibly dangerous, even if those drugs are cheaper.

“They think that they’re getting the real thing, but in fact what they get are fake, expired, contaminated and otherwise unsafe drugs,” Bernstein says.

Because shutting down the fake online pharmacies is difficult, Bernstein says consumers need to be aware of the warning signs:

“A fraudulent online pharmacy will let you buy a medicine without a prescription, offer cheap or discount prices, send spam and be located outside the U.S.,” he says. “Those are red flags.”

Bernstein says safe online pharmacies require prescriptions, are licensed and located in the United States and have a licensed pharmacist available to answer questions.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

Brandon Smith, IPBS has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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