According to a recent warning from Consumer Reports, Americans are being urged to rethink their decision when shopping at an online pharmacy.
Although nearly two million consumers are currently using online pharmacies, government investigators have continued to uncover cases where counterfeit prescriptions are sent out — some of which even cause serious harm.
The majority of prescription drugs in the U.S. are still procured at brick-and-mortar stores, said ABC 7 News. These stores use pharmacy software which allows government authorities to monitor product quality and drug sales, thereby ensuring that each prescription is legitimate.
However, the pull of online pharmacies may be too strong to ignore — especially for anyone who is dealing with expensive medications or is trying to cut back on daily expenses. According to a Consumer Report National Research Center survey from 2014, around 60% of Americans look for ways to cut back on healthcare expenses.
Online pharmacies may seem like a smart option because they advertise rock-bottom prices and convenient shipping right to your front door — but the problem is that consumers have no way of knowing whether the drugs they’ve purchased are authentic. In fact, without a comprehensive lab test, it’s not even possible to know if a prescription drug contains every ingredient it claims to contain; merely looking at the shape and color of a pill provides little proof of authenticity.
According to the recent Consumer Reports survey, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration “took action” against more than 1,000 rogue online pharmacies this past summer — but new pharmacies continue to pop up anyway.
Out of 11,000 surveyed online pharmacies, only 4% operated within the same regulations that brick-and-mortar pharmacies must operate. The trick that most people miss is being able to figure out which online pharmacies are trustworthy, and which ones will likely be selling counterfeit drugs.