Canadian Pharmacists Association

Canadian Pharmacists Association

April 26, 2007 14:49 ET

CPhA: Buying Drugs Online-Buyer Beware...A Case Study

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - April 26, 2007) - There are thousands of internet websites out there selling prescription drugs, experimental drugs and all kinds of "miracle cures". You can be risking your health and even your life by buying drugs over the internet. While some sites might be legitimate and licensed, many more have been created to look like legitimate Canadian pharmacies but are neither. If you order from these sites, you might get counterfeit drugs with no active ingredients, drugs with substandard or dangerous ingredients, or drugs past their expiry date. You might receive an incorrect dose or no product at all. Or you might have your personal and credit card information stolen by organized crime.

Even if these drugs do not harm you directly or immediately, your condition may get worse without effective treatment. If you order drugs that were not prescribed by a health professional, you can be putting yourself at risk for drug interactions or harmful side effects.

Here's a brief case study of an actual online site selling drugs that masquerades as both legitimate and Canadian.

1. This site is apparently one of many operated by a man with numerous aliases who is described as the world's largest spammer. As well as pharmaceuticals, his other sites sell fake Rolexes and mortgage refinancing.

2. This site pretends to be an online vendor of drug products - no prescriptions are required. However, its real purpose is believed to be credit card and identity theft.

3. The site states: "The quality of all our medications is guaranteed by Canadian Board of Pharmacy." No such organization exists.

4. The names of the "professionals" and owners vary from site to site but with the same pictures. One of these is called Dr. E. Armington on the English site and Dr. C. Smith on the French site. This 'individual' is falsely identified as a founder of the Canadian Pharmacists Association (which in fact was started in 1907), and a former professor at two Canadian universities.

5. Although the site states the online ordering system uses the latest in Secure Encryption Technology, when users go to checkout, they are sent to a non-secure http page hosted by (Yes, really.)

6. This site, in common with the operator's other fake pharmacy operations, has no legitimate licenses, approval, quality guarantees, security or site awards. The company is not licensed under Minnesota law, as indicated.

7. The "Canadian" headquarters given is not a valid address.

8. The domain name on the operator's sites, and the images loaded onto web pages, come from what is known as a 'hijacked host'.

Some advice....

- Buying drugs online is no substitute for care provided by your
physician and pharmacist.

- Do not take any prescription drug that has not been prescribed for
you by a health care practitioner who has examined you in person.

- Do not buy any drugs from an internet pharmacy that:

- refuses to provide a street address, telephone number, and a way
of contacting a pharmacist

- offers prescription drugs without a prescription

- claims to have a "miracle cure" for any serious condition

- sells products without a Drug Identification Number (DIN) issued
by Health Canada

- Filling out an online questionnaire that is to be reviewed by a physician does not give enough information to prescribe drugs. Make sure you consult face-to-face with your health care professional before obtaining a prescription medicine for the first time. Taking an unsafe or inappropriate medication puts you at risk for dangerous drug interactions and other serious health problems.

Information that sounds too good to be true requires careful assessment. Beware of sites that advertise a "new cure" for a serious disorder or a quick cure-all for a wide range of ailments. Steer clear of sites that include undocumented case histories claiming "amazing" results.

- Many pharmacies licensed in a Canadian province have websites that provide helpful information and, in some cases, allow clients to purchase over-the-counter products online or refill prescriptions. The practice of pharmacy is regulated by the provinces, and any licensed pharmacy that offers internet services must meet the standards of practice. Make sure you are dealing with a Canadian-based website that is linked to a licensed "bricks and mortar" pharmacy.

- Do not hesitate to contact your provincial pharmacy licensing body to confirm that an online pharmacy is a licensed pharmacy in good standing in a province in Canada. (See Check that U.S. sites have the VIPPS seal.

The Canadian Pharmacists Association does not endorse websites that sell prescription drugs online.

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