Faced with skyrocketing health care costs, many American consumers try to save money on their prescription medications by buying drugs online from online pharmacies outside the U.S., based in countries that restrict prices and limit what pharmacies can charge for medications. “It’s illegal (nudge, nudge) to buy prescriptions drugs (wink, wink) from other countries,” jokes webmd.com, acknowledging that “It is increasingly becoming a custom more honored in the breach than in the observance,” when ordering a brand-name medication from Canada can cost as much as 55 percent less that in neighboring New York State.
The Consumer Reports National Research Center estimated in 2015 that as many as 1.9 million Americans buy medications that way. But is it safe to purchase medications online? “Cyberspace is rife with sellers peddling illegal and even toxic products, often through websites that appear to be authentic,” warned Consumer Reports. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken action against more than a thousand websites that sold products fraudulently as FDA-approved prescription drugs and medical devices. According to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). ”The vast majority of websites selling prescription drugs are not legitimate.”
As a result, buying medications online can be dangerous to your health. The FDA warns consumers about the possible dangers of buying medicines over the Internet. How can Americans take advantage of the cost savings while protecting themselves from scammers? The FDA advises consumers to learn how to recognize a legal Internet pharmacy where they can buy medicines online safely. This precaution, however, means that it’s only safe to purchase drugs from U.S. companies, and paying higher prices.
Resources are available to help U.S. consumers identify safe online pharmacies. ABC News advises:
1. The NABP provides a helpful list of legitimate Canadian online pharmacies where Americans can purchase medications safely on its website www.safe.pharmacy.
2. Visit legitscript.com, and type in the website of the online pharmacy to see whether it’s approved.
ABC quoted Director of the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies Libby Baney, who said, “If you are having issues with cost, go to NeedyMeds.com, a nonprofit organization run by health care professionals to help you find medicine at a lower cost.”
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