Online pharmacies can be dangerous

Connecticut Better Business Bureau warns consumers to be extremely careful when considering the purchase of prescription medication from online pharmacies.

“While there are some reputable Internet pharmacies, there are many imposters and sites that sell medication of questionable quality,” according to Connecticut Better Business Bureau President, Paulette Scarpetti.

The Internet is teeming with offers for prescription medication at discounts from 10 to 20%.  Aside from fake pharmacy website that may put unauthorized charges on a consumer’s credit card, some of these sources sell brand name prescription drugs that are from outside the country, counterfeit, pharmacologically-inactive or the wrong dosage.

Unlike medication manufactured in the United States, prescription medicines from other countries are not subject to the same scrutiny, nor provide the same assurance of safety and efficacy, source and purity as manufacturers that are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

There is a significant risk associated with online pharmacies, according to an FDA study, which found that 85% of medication supposedly shipped from Canadian online pharmacies, actually came from manufacturers in two dozen different countries. Many of the products intercepted were counterfeit.

Patients with serious medical conditions may end up with worthless, adulterated or substitute medications, which could translate into a trip to the emergency room or worse.

Connecticut BBB recommends consumers watch out for several red flags before buying prescription medication from an online pharmacy:

• No prescription required — No legitimate pharmacy will fill an order without a prescription. No medication should be taken without the patient first being examined by an MD.

• Drugs not approved by the FDA  — These can include “experimental” medications, which are either counterfeit or have potentially lethal side effects because they did not go through clinical trials.

• Offers for prescription medicine offered in SPAM email — Consumers should be proactive and choose goods and services suppliers rather than respond to unsolicited email offers. These often lead to scam sites which may download malware onto your computer or put unauthorized charges on your credit card.

• Sites that do not provide contact U.S. contact information — It is essential to verify contact information in case of a problem or emergency.

Before purchasing medication from an online source, check the company’s name or web address at, which is a verification service operated by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.

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