Security Breach Illustrates Another Danger of Fake Online Pharmacies

Planet Drugs Direct, an online pharmacy based in Winnipeg, Canada, has announced a data breach. Hackers broke into their servers, exposing customers’ names, medical details, and contact and banking information, reports Bleeping Computer. The report came in the form of an email sent to some of Planet Drugs Direct’s customers. According to the email, which Bleeping Computer shared, customers have been advised to monitor their bank accounts for any “unusual activity.”

Legitscript is unequivocal in calling Planet Drugs Direct a “Rogue Internet Pharmacy,” their worst rating for online pharmacies. They describe an Internet pharmacy as not just unapproved, but rogue if “the sale, prescribing or dispensing of prescription or other drugs reasonably appears to intentionally or knowingly violate, facilitate the violation of, or offer to facilitate the violation of applicable laws or regulations, defined as the laws and regulations where the drugs are dispensed from or where they are offered to be shipped to;

does not adhere to accepted standards of medical and/or pharmacy practice, including standards of safety; and/or engages in fraudulent or deceptive business practices.”

A check of their website via the Internet archive shows that Planet Drugs Direct sells medications such as Plavix (a blood thinner), Advair Diskus (an asthma medication), and Combigan (a beta blocker and glaucoma medication) sourced from from countries such as United Kingdom, Singapore, Mauritius, Turkey, New Zealand, and Australia.

In 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration published a 2001 list of seized unapproved prescription medication shipped by Planet Drugs Direct, noting, “Unapproved prescription drugs present serious safety and effectiveness concerns. Moreover, approved U.S. versions of these drugs are available. Therefore, this import alert is being established to provide a listing of known distributors.” Planet Drugs Direct medications had shipped the seized medication from New Zealand.

Such rogue actors are  expensive and difficult to prosecute in the United States, which is why enforcing safety and purity protections on foreign-based wholesalers for prescription medication is virtually impossible. However you can protect yourself by learning about the dangers posed by fake medication, and how to buy your medication safely online.