Great care should be taken when buying medicine online


Posted: January 29, 2012 at midnight

The Internet has made it possible for consumers to buy just about any- thing from the comforts of home. Whether shopping for a pizza or a car, consumers can find whatever they need with a few clicks of the mouse.

But buying medicine online is especially risky. Not all websites are trustworthy, and many physicians believe that buying medicine online is never a viable option.

Recognizing the risks involved, the U.S. Food and Drug Administriton offers the following advice to those considering buying medicines online.

Learn about medicines before ordering

Consumers should learn as much as possible about the medicines they plan to purchase before ordering. Know what it looks like, including color, texture, shape and packaging.

Know the product

Many websites that sell medicine are perfectly legal and trust- worthy. However, many others sell medicine that has not been checked or approved by the FDA. These drugs might contain the wrong active ingredient, or too much or too little of it, making them ineffective and possibly even deadly. These faulty sellers often appear just as credible as their legitimate counterparts.

In an effort to increase aware- ness among consumers purchasing medicine online, the FDA purchased and analyzed a host of products that were sold online as Tamiflu, which is used to treat some types of influenza. The active ingredient in Tamiflu is oseltamivir, but one package purchased by the FDA online as Tamiflu contained none of that ingredient.

Similar problems were reported by consumers who purchased Ambien, Xanax, Lexapro and Ativan online. Instead of receiving these drugs, consumers received prod- cuts containing the foreign version of Haldol, a powerful antipsychotic drug that sent consumers to the emergency room, where they were treated for a host of ailments.

When shopping for medicine online, the FDA notes these signs of a website that is trustworthy:

  • The seller is located in the U.S. • The website is licensed by the state board of pharmacy in the state where it is operating.
  • The website offers a licensed pharmacist available to answer any questions.
  • The website provides accessible contact information for any comments or questions.
  • The website has an accessible and understandable privacy and security policy for its consumers. • The website only sells prescription drugs to consumers with an existing prescription.

More information about pre- script ion medication safety is available online at

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