Fake Online Pharmacies: The Dangers Are Real

Like many “deals” that sound too good to be true, the same goes for most online prescriptions.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), fake online pharmacies not only steal your money, but can cost you your personal and financial information, health, or even your life.

Your financial identity may be at risk because phony online pharmacies don’t secure the information you provide on their websites. Also, they may turn around and sell your personal information to other scam websites.

According to the Board of Pharmacy’s (Board’s) Counterfeit Prescription Drugs: Protect Yourself, Your Family, and Your Pets publication, online pharmacies may be selling expired medications or drugs lacking active ingredients. Counterfeits may even contain deadly ingredients such as rat poison, floor wax, house paint, boric acid, and mercury.

Phony prescription medications can include pet medicines, antibiotics, painkillers, or drugs to treat erectile dysfunction, weight loss, heart conditions, mental health issues, HIV, AIDS, diabetes, and cancer.

Fortunately, medications from phony online pharmacies often have telltale signs. For example, counterfeit pills might be chipped or cracked or come in a plastic bag, the label on the bottle might be crooked or contain foreign language, or the drug may look or taste differently than it did before.

Be aware that 97 percent of online pharmacies don’t comply with pharmacy laws and standards. That being said, if you still choose to buy online, the Board provides the following tips:

  • Check via the Board’s website if the pharmacy is licensed.
  • Use only pharmacy websites with the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) seal.
  • Make sure a valid prescription is required.
  • Be wary of very low prices and locations outside the United States.
  • Confirm that a licensed pharmacist is available to answer questions.
  • See if there’s a legitimate physical address, phone number, or other contact information provided.

For more information about fake online pharmacies, visit the Board’s website at www.pharmacy.ca.gov and the FDA’s website at www.fda.gov.

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