What Are the Risks?

Dangers of Buying from a Rogue Site

When you get a prescription from your doctor you purchase the medicine so that you can improve your health or the health of your family. But if you order your medicine from the wrong Internet site you could do just the opposite. Prescription medicines are powerful and if they are not dispensed by a trustworthy provider there could be a number of harmful results.

  1. Harmful effects: Some medicines can be dangerous if not taken with ongoing medical supervision. For this reason, most law enforcement authorities and professional health care organizations advise doctors against prescribing medicine online and caution patients against obtaining prescriptions online, except from sites such as NABP’s VIPPS-accredited pharmacies. This practice is illegal in some states, unless the prescription is written by a doctor who knows the patient’s medical history and previously has examined the patient in person. 

    Completing only an online questionnaire does not establish a valid doctor-patient relationship. More importantly, without a physical examination you could receive medicine that is not right for your condition, worsen your medical condition, or cause a serious underlying medical condition to be overlooked or misdiagnosed.
  2. Drug interactions: Some medicines, in combination with other drugs you might be taking, can compound or inhibit the effects of either or both drugs, leading to a toxic combination or canceling out the effects of needed medicines. For this reason, it is important to discuss taking prescription medicine with a doctor who is familiar with your medical history and has performed an in-person examination.
  3. Questionable professional practices: Many Internet drug outlets operate without a license or in conflict with the laws and regulations created to ensure patient safety. Furthermore, some of the medicines being sold on these websites may be too strong, too weak, fake, expired, stolen, diluted, or impure. Frequently, deceived patients notify us that they have not received the medicines they ordered, or that the site operators refuse to remove credit card charges. Many also complain that they are unable to contact anyone at the organization; phone lines are disconnected, no one answers, or no phone number is provided.
  4. Risk to personal, medical, or financial information: Many illegitimate Internet drug outlets do not protect customers’ personal information with SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption, leaving your medical and financial information vulnerable to anyone who might want to use it for their own gain. Furthermore, evidence indicates that illegitimate prescribing outlets frequently sell their customer lists to other illegitimate online drug outlets and operators of Internet scam and pornography sites. By buying drugs from an illegitimate Internet outlet, you may be identifying yourself as someone who is a good target for rip-off schemes.
  5. Counterfeit drugs: The World Health Organization estimates that medicines purchased over the Internet from outlets that conceal their actual physical address are counterfeit in over 50% of cases. Worldwide counterfeit drug sales are increasing at nearly twice the pace of legitimate drug sales, estimated at 13% annually by the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest.

    Many counterfeit drugs are manufactured in Asian, Latin American, and Eastern European countries. The content of counterfeit drugs ranges from crude mixtures of glue, chalk, and sugar to nearly exact chemical replicas of complex medicines. Because these drugs are neither properly produced nor regulated, it is nearly impossible for patients to know exactly what they are getting.

    If you unknowingly receive counterfeit medicine, not only do you not receive the benefits of the medicine you need, but you also could place your health at risk from unsafe ingredients.

How do you protect yourself from rogue drug sites? With knowledge.