The Dangers of Online Pharmacies


It is no secret that pharmaceuticals, especially prescription medications, are not cheap. In fact, many people go without the medicines they need simply because they cannot afford the high cost. This sparks interest in a relatively new phenomenon – the online pharmacy. Everywhere you look online, there are advertisements for these pharmacies promising real medications at a fraction of the cost.

It all sounds too good to be true, and it often is. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continuously issues updated warnings to consumers about the dangers of unregulated, foreign online pharmacies.

Why are online pharmacies so dangerous? Here are some facts to consider:

Online pharmacies use a variety of different methods to provide low cost medications. The most minor of these would be expired products. Expired medications could be dangerous and/or provide decreased potency.

The worst of the online pharmacies could provide medications that are fake, contaminated, or mislabeled. Considering the power of active pharmaceutical ingredients and the numerous side effects associated with specific combinations of prescription drugs, this set of problems could lead to a serious and detrimental outcome for patients of online pharmacies.

Of course, some could argue that there are genuine and safe online pharmacies from which they could buy their medications. Even if this were true, the overabundance of fake and illegal pharmacies makes it hard to find the real ones. Here are a few of the warning signs that a pharmacy is not upstanding:

  • They do not ask for prescriptions.
  • They add you to spam email lists or sell your contact information.
  • They advertise prices that are “too good to be true.”
  • They are located in foreign countries to avoid regulations.
  • They cannot provide a pharmacy license.

If you choose to use an online pharmacy, you must be careful to find a legitimate one. A true pharmacy will require that you send them your doctor’s prescription. They will also be licensed by their state to be an official pharmacy. An upstanding pharmacy will be able to provide you with pertinent information like contact details and communications with a real pharmacist.

Online pharmacies are dangerous. For more information, please review the FDA resource guide and online pharmacy reference: BeSafeRX.

If you are having trouble affording your medicine, there are a number of safe and legal alternatives. Government agencies have created programs that provide prescription drug assistance. Sites like GoodRx help locate pharmacies with the cheapest prescription prices. And the pharmaceutical companies themselves have implemented reduced co-pay systems to help defer the cost of many branded medicines.