The dangers of buying prescription drugs online
HOUSTON – Rising costs, coupled with high health insurance deductibles, are causing some people to turn to the internet for cheaper drugs. Investigator Amy Davis delves into what you need to know about the dangers of buying prescription drugs online.
While most consumers assume that online pharmacies are safe, the FDA estimates that only 3% of online pharmacies reviewed by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy comply with US pharmacy laws and standards. Buying prescription drugs from fraudulent online pharmacies can be dangerous or even deadly. At best, counterfeit drugs are counterfeits of approved drugs and should be considered dangerous and ineffective.
Costs of popular RX drugs continue to rise
A US House committee found that list prices for several drugs, including insulin, continue to rise. For the 37 million Americans with diabetes, insulin is an essential part of managing high blood sugar. But the prices of some diabetes medications are exorbitant. In fact, the list price of one has jumped 1,200% since its launch.
The cost of a popular rheumatoid arthritis drug has increased by 486%. Another nerve pain drug is up 420%. More and more Americans are looking for better prices on the Internet. But health experts say, buyer beware!
“One of the things we have is a project where we order prescription drugs from online pharmacies, analyze them, and see what you actually get,” said Elizabeth Gardner, Ph.D. UAB Medical Examiner.
Drug tests found counterfeits
Researchers have found some online pharmacies to be fake storefronts running scams with expired or unidentified, potentially dangerous chemicals. Some of the drugs tested were inconsistent.
“It had the active ingredient, but when we quantified it, we were supposed to get pills that had 20 milligrams. And they had 18 to 41 milligrams,” Gardner said.
This means that consumers were either getting less than they needed or a higher dose than recommended. The safest bets? The FDA recommends consumers buy from verified online sources linked to their individual health plans or “brick and mortar” pharmacy.
RELATED: Can you save money with Amazon Pharmacy?
Money magazine recommends five online pharmacies: Costco, PillPack, RX Outreach, Healthwarehouse, and Bioplus Specialty Pharmacy. There are also places like GoodRX and RXsaver that offer free coupons for popular prescription drugs.
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