The FDA has previously warned about the risks of buying drugs and other medical products over the internet which could be fake, sub-potent, counterfeit, or not approved by the FDA. Some of the drugs most susceptible to counterfeiting are expensive drugs that are sold in large volumes including cholesterol-lowering medications and “embarrassment drugs” (drugs for conditions that patients may not be inclined to discuss with their doctor).
According to an article in a recent issue of Family Practice Management, a consumer who buys pharmaceutical products online should be sure to do the following:
1. Make sure to look for the VIPPS seal (Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site). The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy gives the seal to internet pharmacies that meet state licensure and other criteria.
2. Patients should compare the appearance and packaging of the medicines they buy online with the same medicine they have gotten from a regular pharmacy. If the internet product doesn’t match up exactly, the patient should not use it and potential counterfeiting should be reported to the FDA immediately.
The Food & Drug Administration website also includes alerts regarding counterfeiting and other safety tips for consumers. The FDA has also created the Counterfeit Alert Network along with several medical organizations to assist in disseminating information and apprehending counterfeiters.
For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Drugs, Medical Devices, and Implants.