The online pharmacy industry is big business, including thousands of vendors selling many billions of dollars in drugs worldwide. Though a number of online pharmacies are legitimate, the industry is so lucrative that it also attracts con artists reportedly pushing expired, alternate or counterfeit medications for an estimated $75+ Billion.
The phony online pharmacy problem became so widespread that the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), other agencies and private drug manufacturers/vendors began a concentrated battle against them for the past decade. In 2013 alone, the FDA and international agencies took action against 9,600+ websites, issuing warnings, seizing websites and confiscating $41+ million in illegal medications.
In addition to directly confronting the pharmacies, the FDA pursued delivery services for deliberately shipping from illegitimate online pharmacies: in 2013, UPS agreed to pay $40 million, improve its policies and procedures, appoint a compliance officer to monitor internet pharmacies, and hire an independent auditor to manage the compliance officer’s work; in mid-July 2014, Fed Ex was indicted for conspiring with illegal internet pharmacies to deliver prescription drugs to customers lacking authentic prescriptions and the global shipper could be penalized as much as $1.7 Billion. Fed Ex has vowed to fight the charges, claiming that detecting and halting such deliveries would require invasions of their customers’ privacy.
How can the average consumer use online pharmacies without getting burned by expired, alternate or counterfeit medications? There are telltale signs of disreputable pharmacies. A consumer should be wary if an online pharmacy: allows prescription drug purchase without a genuine prescription; boasts unbelievably low prices; lacks a pharmacist to answer consumer questions; contacts the consumer with spam e-mail; is located in a foreign country; and most importantly, is not licensed in the United States, which can be determined state-by-state here:
FDA State Pharmacy Check While the federal government fights fake pharmacies on a grander scale, the average consumer can protect himself/herself through those simple steps.
DO’S AND DON’TS
DON’T buy prescription drugs from an online pharmacy that doesn’t require a prescription, has too-low prices, lacks a pharmacist to answer questions, contacts you with spam e-mail, is in a foreign country and is not licensed in the U. S.
DO check any online pharmacy’s U.S./state license here: FDA State Pharmacy Check
Note from HandelontheLaw.com: This article is to be used as an educational guide only and should not be interpreted as a legal consultation. Readers of this article are advised to seek an attorney if a legal consultation is needed. Laws may vary by state and are subject to change, thus the accuracy of this information can not be guaranteed. Readers act on this information solely at their own risk. Neither the author, handelonthelaw.com, or any of its affiliates shall have any liability stemming from this article.