If you do or if you are considering, please read this and protect yourself!
Use Caution Buying Medical Products Online
-By Mich__le Meadows, FDA website
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Many legitimate Web sites bring customers health products with the benefits of convenience, privacy, and, sometimes, cheaper prices. "But consumers need to be aware that the Internet has also created a marketplace for unapproved medical products, illegal prescribing, and products marketed with fraudulent health claims," says William Hubbard, associate commissioner for policy and planning at the Food and Drug Administration.
* Prescription Drugs
Problem sites: One way that illegitimate Web sites violate the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) is by dispensing prescription drugs without a valid prescription, says Steven Silverman, director of the Division of New Drugs and Labeling Compliance in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. "FDA leaves it to individual states to decide what is a valid prescription. Web sites cannot dispense drugs in violation of those laws or with no prescription at all."
But some Web sites dispense drugs after customers simply fill out an online questionnaire or engage in some other similar cyber "consultation."
In June 2004, experts at the Government Accountability Office, formerly the General
"The FDA has taken action against Web sites selling drug products that are unapproved, misbranded, or that make fraudulent health claims," Silverman says. Misbranded drugs include those with misleading labeling and those that aren't adequately labeled with directions for use of the product.
Risks: "When you buy drugs from a questionable Web site, you just don't know what you're actually getting," says Carmen Catizone, executive director of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP).
The main concerns are that the drugs could be outdated, contaminated, too potent or not potent enough, improperly manufactured and handled, or counterfeit. This is a common problem, and THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT!
Between February 2004 and August 2004, the NABP received more than 100 consumer complaints alleging harm related to buying drugs online. Consumers paid money but never received products, received medications different from what they ordered, or experienced worsening symptoms after taking the drugs they ordered online.
As for drugs imported from countries outside of the United States, the FDA can't assure their safety. In July 2004, the FDA announced that its investigators bought three commonly prescribed drugs--Viagra, Lipitor, and Ambien--from a Web site advertising "Canadian generics," and found that the drugs were fake and potentially dangerous.
DO NOT BUY CLOMID FROM FOREIGN COUNTRIES!
regulation: State medical boards regulate medical practice and state pharmacy boards regulate pharmacy practice. It is generally unlawful to prescribe or dispense drugs without a legitimate relationship between the health care provider and the patient. Penalties may include fines and license suspensions.
Tips: For consumers who want to buy prescription drugs online, the FDA recommends purchasing only from state-licensed pharmacies in the United States. This helps to assure that the consumer will receive drugs that are manufactured, packaged, distributed, and labeled properly. Some legitimate Internet pharmacies are extensions of traditional brick-and-mortar chain drug stores such as Walgreens, Eckerd, and CVS.
"There are also smaller, and still legitimate, Web sites that consumers can use with confidence," says Linda Silvers, who leads the Internet and health fraud team at the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. "Legitimate sites require valid prescriptions."
"A Web site can look very sophisticated and legitimate, but actually be an illegal operation," Silvers says. "If there is no way to contact the Web site pharmacy by phone, if prices are dramatically lower than the compet_tion, or if no prescription from your doctor is required, consumers should be especially wary."
People should check with their state board of pharmacy or NABP to see if an online pharmacy has a valid pharmacy license and meets state quality standards. NABP's Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites program, also known as VIPPS, is a voluntary program that verifies the legitimacy of Internet sites dispensing prescription drugs and gives a seal of approval to sites that apply and meet state licensure requirements and other VIPPS criteria.
To find out if an online pharmacy is licensed and in good standing, contact NABP at www.nabp.net. Legitimate pharmacies that carry the VIPPS seal are listed at http://www.vipps.info/. For a list of state boards of pharmacy, visit www.nabp.info.