New Study Highlights Abundance of Rogue Online Pharmacy Sites

New Study Highlights Abundance of Rogue Online Pharmacy Sites

04.25.12 | By

How many of you have gone to an Internet pharmacy site to purchase medicines and found that the prices were artificially low? While everybody likes a good deal, including me, there have been several warnings to consumers by the Food and Drug Administration about rogue online pharmacy sites that offer deals too good to be true.

The reality is that criminals sell many different consumer products that are appealing to consumers because of the really low price tags. Take designer handbags, for example. During a recent trip to New York City, I walked past a street vendor selling what appeared to be Louis Vuitton and Chanel handbags. The prices were incredible - a Chanel bag selling for $150 seemed like a really good deal but the reality was that the bags were fake.

I think Americans, for the most part, know that you can't purchase real designer bags on a street corner, but unfortunately it doesn't stop them from buying the fake product. I think this is the result of trying to keep up with the Joneses.

I have learned over the years that while it might be tempting to purchase a designer handbag that looks almost identical to the real deal, it would only contribute to the counterfeit trade that criminals around the world benefit from and ultimately add fuel to the dangerous fire that allow shady characters to continue doing their business.

We all know that handbags are very different from medicines - they're nice to look at but they provide no therapeutic benefit to patients battling disease. And importantly, fake medicines can be lethal, unlike fake handbags. But the simple reality is that criminals have no reservations about taking advantage of consumers by selling counterfeit goods, including medicines, and don't think twice about the potential consequences of doing so. And you should know that many criminals are going to the Internet to peddle their counterfeit products.

A recent study by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) found that 96 percent of the more than 9,500 online pharmacy sites analyzed continue to operate out of compliance with United States pharmacy laws, fuel prescription drug abuse and misuse, and provide an outlet for counterfeit medicines to enter the U.S. drug supply.

NABP found that the vast majority of sites found to be out of compliance "can be traced to rogue affiliate networks obtaining prescription drugs from questionable sources, and dispensing them indiscriminately to patients without a valid prescription or medial oversight."

I urge you to check out their press release to find other results of the study.

The important lesson out of all of this is that consumers must be careful when purchasing their medicines online. There are many valid Internet pharmacy sites that are in compliance with the law but there are also a whole host of websites run by criminals operating out of foreign countries who don't care about patients' lives.

Follow Jen on Twitter at @JenAtPhRMA.

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