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Proceed with Caution: Safely Purchasing from Online Pharmacies

As today’s economy has more and more people struggle to reduce costs, it is easy to understand why many consumers find purchasing medications online attractive. But online purchases represent the most dangerous example of “buyer beware”: the money you might save through an unverified online drug seller may cost you or your loved ones loss of health or life.

Bryan A. Liang, MD, PhD, JD   Liang (sm)

As today’s economy has more and more people struggle to reduce costs, it is easy to understand why many consumers find purchasing medications online attractive.   But online purchases represent the most dangerous example of “buyer beware”: the money you might save through an unverified online drug seller may cost you or your loved ones loss of health or life.  Almost all of these “online pharmacies” do not comply with state and federal laws, or patient safety and pharmacy practice standards according to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.  This means you may get fakes from China or India, and the chances of unknowingly taking counterfeit drugs filled with inactive or harmful ingredients skyrockets.

Better prices are available for medicine, and you can get them when buying prescription medication online if you follow some important steps.  Guidance is available through The Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM). PSM has many resources to help consumers safely purchase medications for less, including the Safe Savings brochure and the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA).  Our Consumer Resources portal shares a variety of ways to save money on prescription medication-such as buying from an online pharmacy accredited by the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) or applying to a patient assistance program listed on the PPA’s Web site— www.pparx.com (now medicineassistancetool.org)—while maintaining patient safety.  For more information about ways to safely save money on prescription medications and to find the safest online pharmacies, please visit www.safemedicines.org.

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