SOURCE: National Association of Boards of Pharmacy Foundation

National Association of Boards of Pharmacy Foundation

July 09, 2012 15:34 ET

Counterfeit Drugs Endanger Consumers Unknowingly Using Fake Pharmacy Sites

Protect Yourself by Learning How to Avoid Rogue Sites and How to Choose the Safest Internet Pharmacies

MOUNT PROSPECT, IL--(Marketwire - Jul 9, 2012) - Unsuspecting Americans have suffered health consequences such as strokes, heart attacks, addiction, and even death due to taking drugs purchased from fake online pharmacies. These rogue Internet drug outlets often sell counterfeit drugs containing too much, too little, or the wrong active ingredient, and often these products contain toxins such as glue, chalk, and rat poison. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®) wants everyone to be aware of how dangerous it can be to order drug products from fake online pharmacies. NABP, through the AWARxE® Consumer Protection Program, also wants to alert consumers to resources for finding the safest Internet pharmacies and for learning about how to avoid unsafe Internet drug outlets.

Thousands of packages containing counterfeit drugs ordered over the Internet continue to be intercepted by United States Customs and Border Protection. And recently, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned consumers about a potentially dangerous counterfeit version of Adderall® tablets being sold on the Internet -- the tablets contained the painkillers tramadol and acetaminophen rather than the active ingredients of the authentic ADHD drug, Adderall. Further, drug products like this are often distributed to consumers who do not have a valid prescription, or who simply complete an online questionnaire. This practice is very dangerous for consumers, leaving them without proper diagnosis and treatment and without medication counseling.

AWARxE encourages consumers to make an informed choice when buying medications online by using resources provided by NABP. As part of its mission to protect the public's health, NABP has reviewed, and continues to review, thousands of Web sites to determine if they maintain safe pharmacy practices. Unfortunately, the majority of Web sites selling prescription drugs do not.

NABP has reviewed more than 9,800 Web sites selling prescription drugs. AWARxE alerts consumers that only 3%, or 328, of these sites appear to be in compliance with state and federal laws and NABP patient safety and pharmacy practice standards. The other 97% of these sites are considered rogue sites and are listed as Not Recommended on the AWARXE Web site, www.AWARErx.org.

Of the sites reviewed, those currently listed as Not Recommended are characterized as follows:

  • 87% do not require a valid prescription
  • 50% offer foreign or non-FDA-approved drugs
  • 59% use an online questionnaire to evaluate patient health and medication needs, which can be very dangerous
  • 24% are located outside of the US and selling drugs illegally to patients in the US

Many rogue sites selling drug products online use state-of-the art Web sites and may appear to be legitimate online pharmacies. And some claim to be Canadian pharmacies to seem like a safe place to buy medications. However, such sites may actually be fake online pharmacies, and may obtain medications from countries in Asia, South America, or Eastern Europe, where quality standards are more lax and counterfeit medications more widespread. While counterfeit medications can surface anywhere, they are significantly more common in developing foreign countries. That is the problem with buying medicine from foreign sources -- you never know what you are getting.

Safest Way to Shop for Medicine Online

AWARxE wants consumers to know about the safest way to purchase prescription medications online. When ordering prescription medication online, consumers can look for the VIPPS® (Verified Internet Practice Pharmacy SitesCM) Seal, and check the VIPPS list on www.AWARErx.org to make sure the site is listed there. VIPPS-accredited sites are in agreement with all federal and state regulations and NABP safety standards. Some VIPPS-accredited sites may even offer discount prescription programs to help offset the cost of medications. And, when ordering prescription pet medications online, consumers can look for the Vet-VIPPS® (Veterinary-Verified Internet Practice Pharmacy SitesCM) seal and check the list of Vet-VIPPS pharmacies on AWARErx.org to make sure the site is listed there.

AWARxE recognizes that some consumers buying medications online may be searching for medications they can afford. Thus, AWARxE also provides consumers with information about programs offering prescription drug assistance, low-cost, and even some free medications. The Finding Safe and Affordable Prescription Medications page on the AWARxE Web site includes links to both government programs and those run by organizations, and resources include local, state, and national programs. AWARxE also encourages consumers to talk with their pharmacist and their doctor for information about state and local discount programs or prescription drug assistance programs.

More information about counterfeit drugs will be available in the July 2012 NABP Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program Progress Report for State and Federal Regulators. This report will be available in mid-July for download from the AWARxE Web site at www.awarerx.org/Not_Recommended_Sites.php.

To protect yourself and your loved ones, you can join AWARxE efforts by spreading awareness about the dangers of Internet drug outlets and counterfeit drugs. More information and a link to the list of VIPPS-accredited Internet pharmacies is available on www.AWARErx.org.

Like AWARxE on Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/AWARxE

Check out AWARxE's YouTube Channel:
http://www.youtube.com/user/AWARxE

AWARxE® is a consumer protection program provided by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy Foundation®. For more information, please visit www.AWARErx.orgNational Association of Boards of Pharmacy is an impartial professional organization that supports the state boards of pharmacy in creating uniform regulations to protect public health.

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