By Clarissa Kell-Holland
For many truck drivers, a “routine” trip to the local pharmacy every month to get prescriptions filled or refilled isn’t routine at all.
In fact, many drivers dread the monthly prescription hassles they face because they are usually hundreds of miles from home and just can’t leave work early to make it to the pharmacy during “normal” business hours.
That’s why many truck drivers have turned to the Internet to order their medications. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is cautioning consumers about the dangers associated with buying prescription drugs online.
Warning: You may not be getting what you paid for
A recent FDA alert found that as many as 24 Web sites (listed below) “may be involved in the distribution of counterfeit prescription drugs.”
In recent months, the FDA has found that consumers inadvertently ordered counterfeit versions of the popular weight loss drug, Xenical. According to an FDA press release earlier this year, none of the capsules tested that were ordered off the Web sites contained orlistat, the active ingredient in authentic Xenical.
Other samples of drug products obtained from two of the Internet orders were composed of only talc and starch, and contained none of the active ingredient they claimed to be.
FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations warns that counterfeit samples of Tamiflu and Cialis have been linked to four of the Web sites included in the list.
The FDA warns consumers to be wary of purchasing drugs from any of the following 24 Web sites that appear on pharmacycall365.com home page under the “Our Web sites” heading.
Red flags to watch for on such Web sites include the lack of a phone number to contact the pharmacy and prices that are dramatically lower than the competition. Also, use extreme caution if no prescription from your doctor is required for substances that you know are prescription medications.
Consumers are urged to review the FDA Web page at www.fda.gov/buyonline for additional information prior to making purchases of prescription drugs over the Internet.
FDA warns against these Web sites
According to the FDA, these 24 Web sites appear to be operated outside of the United States and may be involved in the “distribution of counterfeit drugs.” Be aware that some of these sites have what is considered to be adult content.
How do you spot phony pharmacies?
In March, our Land Line crew was in Louisville, KY, for the Mid-America Trucking Show and we had a long discussion with several drivers who insisted that online drug shopping was the way to go.
A trucker and his wife on the fringe of the dialog asked how to tell “good drugs from bad drugs?” We didn’t know then, but we’ve done a bit of homework and found these tips.
If you are set on buying your prescription drugs online, the FDA recommends purchasing only from state-licensed online pharmacies that are located in the United States.
According to the FDA, this helps assure that consumers will receive drugs that are “manufactured, packaged, distributed and labeled properly.”
The FDA advises that legitimate online pharmacies will ask for a prescription from your doctor before filling your medications.
To find out if an online pharmacy is licensed, is in good standing and is located in the U.S., contact the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy at www.nabp.net.
For a list of state boards of pharmacy, visit nabp.info on the Web.
The NABP also has a program to help consumers find some of the pharmacies that are licensed to sell medicine online.
Internet Web sites that display the Verified Pharmacy Practice Sites Seal – referred to as the VIPPS Seal – have been checked by the NABP to make sure they meet state and federal rules. For more information, go to vipps.info.