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FDA Unveils National Campaign to Protect Consumers from Illegal Online Pharmacies

WARNING! Beware of online pharmacies that:

  • Allow you to buy drugs without a prescription from your doctor
  • Offer deep discounts or cheap prices that seem too good to be true
  • Send spam or unsolicited email offering cheap drugs
  • Are based outside of the United States

These are signs of a fake online pharmacy.

Source: www.FDA.gov/BeSafeRx

According to a recent survey by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, nearly one in four adult Internet consumers has purchased prescription medicine online. Some of these internet users may be at risk of harm because, for example, they may have purchased medicine from questionable online sources. FDA's campaign will educate consumers about the dangers of purchasing medicines online and provide tips on how to make purchases from legal online pharmacies.

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) estimates that more than 97 percent of websites that present themselves as online pharmacies do not meet pharmacy laws and NABP's practice standards. These websites are often selling unapproved versions of medicines used in the United States—or worse, the drugs may be made with harmful ingredients. In fact, many of these websites use fake 'storefronts' to make consumers think they come from countries with high safety standards while the drugs that they offer may in fact be produced under conditions that would not meet these standards.

"There are thousands of fake pharmacies on the Internet selling counterfeit, expired, contaminated, or otherwise unsafe drugs,” said [Spokesperson, Title]. "Some of these websites look so sophisticated that even a careful consumer can fall victim to a fake pharmacy scam."

To protect consumers from the growing threat of fake online pharmacies, FDA is launching a national educational campaign, "BeSafeRx - Know Your Online Pharmacy. "The campaign seeks to increase public awareness of the dangers of buying from illegal online pharmacies and provide resources to help consumers buy prescriptions safely online.

"We are working diligently with Federal enforcement agencies, global criminal justice organizations, and representatives from Internet domain registrars, search engines, finance and shipping to identify and stop these dangerous operations," said [Second Spokesperson, Title]. "However, you have the ultimate responsibility for protecting yourself and your family."

The BeSafeRx campaign website, www.FDA.gov/BeSafeRx, provides consumers with the tools and resources they need to safely purchase prescription medicine online. The site features:

  • The risks of buying from fake online pharmacies
  • How to identify a safe, legal online pharmacy
  • Tools for campaign supporters and health care professionals

Before buying your medicine online, check to make sure you are using a safe, legal online pharmacy. Visit www.FDA.gov/BeSafeRx or call 1-888-463-6332 for more information.

Page Last Updated: 09/24/2013
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