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Safety concerns with online pharmacies

By Angela Yingling
Published On: Sep 18 2013 04:52:40 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 18 2013 08:47:55 PM CDT

When it comes to buying prescription medication some people are turning to the internet to find cheaper medicines, but the Food and Drug Administration warns consumers some online pharmacies may not be safe.

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. -

When it comes to buying prescription medication some people are turning to the internet to find cheaper medicines, but the Food and Drug Administration warns consumers some online pharmacies may not be safe.

It can be ordered online from the comforts of home, but is it safe to buy prescription medication from an online pharmacy?

"Medications that you put in your body you need to make sure are the medications that they're labeled to be," says Jimmy Love, a pharmacist at the Johnson City Medical Center.

According to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, a survey shows 97 percent of more than 10,000 online pharmacies are operating either illegally or not following pharmacy standards.

Love says use caution if you turn to the internet for your prescriptions. "An online pharmacy too often can mean a questionable supply of medications to that pharmacy. It might even mean that the pharmacy is not even in the United States, not under the jurisdiction and regulations that the FDA requires here in the states."

But many patients are simply looking for a way to save money. Elizabethton resident John Clark recently switched his prescription to one ordered online. "90 pills for $24 and the other you can get 400 for $18, so that's quite a bit of difference," says Clark.

He says he did his research ahead of time. “They had all the same medicines, through the same supplier and all, and the same compound, and it was a lot better price," he said.

However, Love cautions online pharmacies are different than mail order pharmacies. We’re told mail order pharmacies are typically recommended by your health insurance provider.

Love says there are benefits to using your local pharmacy for medications. "That pharmacy and technician staff, they're going to know you, they’re going to know your drug profile, they're going to know what your habits are with respect to refills," he said.

The FDA has some warnings if you are buying online prescriptions: use sites that require a valid prescription, are licensed by the state board of pharmacy, sites that are located in the United States with a physical street address and have a licensed pharmacist available for consultation.

For more information visit FDA's BeSafeRx website.