Buying Medicine and Medical Products Online
Tips and Warnings for Consumers!
With hundreds of drug-dispensing Websites in business, how can consumers tell
which sites are legitimate ones, especially when it is very easy to set up a
site that is very professional looking and promises deep discounts or a minimum
If you buy medical products online, be aware of the following dangers:
- Purchasing a medication from an illegal Website puts you at risk. You may
receive a contaminated or counterfeit product, the wrong product, an
incorrect dose, or no product at all.
- Taking an unsafe or inappropriate medication puts you at risk for
dangerous drug interactions and other serious health consequences.
- Getting a prescription drug by filling out a questionnaire without
seeing a doctor poses serious health risks. A questionnaire does not provide
sufficient information for a health-care professional to determine if that
drug is for you or safe to use, if another treatment is more appropriate, or
if you have an underlying medical condition where using that drug may be
harmful. The American Medical Association has determined that this practice
is generally substandard medical care. FDA agrees.
FDA offers these tips to consumers who buy health products online:
- Check with the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (www.nabp.net,
(847) 698-6227) to determine whether a Website is a licensed pharmacy in
- Don't buy from sites that offer to prescribe a prescription drug for the
first time without a physical exam, sell a prescription drug without a
prescription, or sell drugs not approved by FDA.
- Don't do business with sites that have no access to a
registered pharmacist to answer questions.
- Avoid sites that do not identify with whom you are dealing and do not
provide a U.S. address and phone number to contact if there's a problem.
- Don't purchase from foreign Websites at this time because generally it
will be illegal to import the drugs bought from these sites, the risks are
greater, and there is very little the U.S. government can do if you get
- Beware of sites that advertise a "new cure" for a serious
disorder or a quick cure-all for a wide range of ailments.
- Be careful of sites that use impressive-sounding terminology to disguise a
lack of good science or those that claim the government, the medical
profession, or research scientists have conspired to suppress a product.
- Steer clear of sites that include undocumented case histories claiming
- Talk to your health-care professional before using any medications for the
Consumers who suspect that a site is illegal can report it to FDA.Last Editorial Review: 2/5/2004
(Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, http://www.fda.gov/)