Bryan A. Liang, MD, PhD, JD

Healthcare spending and prices are on the rise—again.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimates that overall healthcare spending in America will reach $4.3 trillion annually by 2017. Given that healthcare costs are increasing at nearly three times the rate of inflation, it’s no wonder Americans are seeking ways to keep their healthcare costs low.

Some are turning to the Internet, where thousands of Web sites promise big savings on prescription drugs. But Internet-based sales of pharmaceuticals are a major source of counterfeit medicines in industrial countries according to the World Health Organization. In fact, again according to WHO, Internet “pharmacies” ship fakes in more than 50 percent of cases.

Patients don’t have to turn to questionable online sellers to get the medications they need. The Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA) is a safe alternative for patients who cannot afford to fill their prescriptions and get medicine they need.

The PPA is a clearinghouse of information that is a single point of access to more than 475 public and private patient assistance programs. The program offers language assistance and can provide information in over 100 different languages. Patients only need to answer a few short eligibility questions, which they can do online or by phone (1-888-477-2669) to find out if they quality for assistance programs.

It’s always a good idea to save money – but patient safety should never be sacrificed. Being left untreated, injured, or killed is not a good tradeoff for purchasing from risky Internet sellers.