Buyer Beware...Of Medications From Other Countries
Looks can be
deceiving, the medicine you buy across the borders may be unsafe
or ineffective, don't risk your health!
Occasionally, U.S. residents travel to other countries to purchase medications
(drugs) for personal use or order such medications from foreign sources. The
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is concerned that medications you
purchase abroad may present health risks.
Here's what you should know:
- Quality assurance concerns: Medications that
have not been approved for sale in the United States may not have been
manufactured under quality assurance procedures designed to produce a safe and
- Counterfeit potential: Some imported medications - even those that bear the
name of a U.S. "approved product" may, in fact, be counterfeit versions that are
unsafe or even completely ineffective.
- Presence of untested substances: Some imported medications and their
ingredients, although legal in foreign countries, may not have been evaluated
for safety and effectiveness in the United States. These products may be
addictive or contain other dangerous substances.
- Risks of unsupervised use: Some medications, whether imported or not, are
unsafe when taken without adequate medical supervision. You may need a medical
evaluation to ensure that the medication is appropriate for you and your
condition. Or, you may require medical checkups to make sure that you are taking
the drug properly, it is working for you and that you are not having unexpected
or life-threatening side effects.
- Labeling and language issues: The medication's label, including
instructions for use and possible side effects, may be in a language you do not
understand and may make medical claims or suggest specific uses that have not
been adequately evaluated for safety and effectiveness.
- Lack of information: An imported medication may lack information that would
permit you to be promptly and correctly treated for a dangerous side effect
caused by the drug.
If you have any questions about the use of any medication, FDA (and the
Medical Editors of MedicineNet.com) encourages you
to contact your physician, your local pharmacist or the Board of Pharmacy for
the state in which you live.
The above information has been provided with the kind permission
of the Food and Drug Administration (http://www.fda.gov/cder/).Last Editorial Review: 10/28/2002