Reasons to Avoid Rogue Online Pharmacies

Reasons to Avoid Rogue Internet Pharmacies

Unfortunately, as the price of medications continues to increase, pharmacy websites and internet pharmacies continue to expand. Patients may purchase insulin online in an effort to reduce the cost of this sometimes expensive medicine without knowing that they are putting their health, and even life, at risk by buying from rogue internet pharmacy sites.

The good news is that many of these internet pharmacies are legitimate and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They supply patients with quality and affordable prescription medicines and non-prescription medications.

The bad news is that, like any growing business, there are rogue online pharmacies that abuse this privilege and sell medicines that are outdated or of lower drug quality.

The Use of Mail-Order Pharmacies

According to a survey conducted by CivicScience, one in six people over 54 purchase their medications via internet pharmacies. With drug prices and the cost of prescription medicines increasing by 33% since 2014, it’s easy to see why people are turning to more cost-effective solutions, which are internet pharmacies.

Unfortunately, corrupt mail-order pharmacies and pharmacy websites are taking advantage of individuals seeking to reduce costs for their prescription medicine by supplying low-cost prescription drugs that are also dangerous.

Here are just a few of the tactics they use that can lead to health problems.

Supplying Substandard Prescription Drugs

These rogue internet pharmacies increase their profits by supplying substandard prescription drugs. They do this in the following manner:

  • Outdated Prescription Drugs. Selling drugs past their sell-by-date reduces their effectiveness.
  • Contaminated Drugs. These types of drugs may be contaminated with fillers, or worse, toxic substances. This practice can lead to anaphylactic shock or a very bad reaction.
  • Reducing the Active Ingredient. If an internet pharmacy is supplying drugs without enough active ingredients, the drug’s ability to be effective and treat the disease or condition has been significantly reduced.
  • Wrong Dosage or Diluted. Taking the wrong dose can be deadly at worse and ineffective at the least.  If you’re taking a new medication, you may not know what to expect or what symptoms are normal.
  • Fake. The worst-case scenario is an internet pharmacy website that sells drugs containing the wrong ingredients or absolutely no medicinal ingredients.

As you can imagine, these practices are not only deceitful but also dangerous. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that substandard medicines diminish patient safety in two ways.  Not only can the outdated ingredients and fillers cause harm, but they may also fail to treat the diseases that they were prescribed for.

Individuals who purchase insulin online from an illicit internet pharmacy are risking their health and, potentially, their lives.

Improper Storage

A rogue internet pharmacy that cares little about its customers or the quality of the medications they’re supplying, will also pay little attention to proper storage techniques. Many medications need to be stored at specific temperatures and under certain conditions in order to be effective.

For example, supplying certain types of insulin that have been stored improperly can affect its ability to control blood sugar levels.

Supplying Drugs Without a Prescription

While it would seem that pharmacy websites could not get away with selling prescription medicine without a prescription, some do. Keep in mind that an email prescription is not sufficient.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warning letters to several rogue online pharmacy websites informing them that they are engaged in illegal activities. Some of these activities include selling drugs without prescriptions.

A list of the rogue online pharmacies that received these letters can be found here.  The Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPs) was created to help individuals find safe access to their prescription drug online.

No Licensed Pharmacists

A definite red flag is no contact information or, when you do contact them, the mail-order pharmacy cannot connect you with a licensed pharmacist for additional health information.

Identifying Rogue Internet Pharmacies

Internet pharmacies should be held to the same standards as onsite pharmacy services. According to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), only about 3% of internet pharmacies comply with the United States pharmacy laws or standards.

In order to ensure that an online pharmacy is not one of these, there are a few warning signs to be aware of. These include websites that do not list a location, street address, or mailing address. Other signs to be wary of are ones that allow you to purchase drugs without a prescription or whose internet presence is unprofessional.

If you receive a social media post or email that promises cheap drug prices on well-known drugs, check out the mail-order pharmacy before purchasing.

Consumers should be wary of mail-order pharmacy that is located outside of the United States or Canada. Rogue internet pharmacies tend to appear and then disappear quickly.

Some sites have even been associated with organized crime networks. Make sure they have a solid internet presence and do your research before buying. These organizations can also use the promise of selling cheap drugs and prescriptions online as a way to obtain your personal information for identity theft purposes or credit card fraud.

Telling the Difference Between Quality Prescription Drugs and Substandard Drugs

While it’s best to purchase different insulin types and other prescription medicines from internet pharmacies or a mail-order pharmacy that you know is regulated and well-trusted, it is best to take a close look at the drugs you receive before taking them.

Look at the label for any grammar mistakes or spelling errors. Quality internet pharmacies are committed to the same standards as brick-and-mortar pharmacies, which means that the label on a prescription drug is always free from errors.

Check the expiration date. While these can be changed, matching the expiration dates on the bottle or bag with the outer container can catch a rogue online prescription drug supplier.

Look carefully at the drugs and smell them. If the medicine seems off-color or smells bad, do not take it and contact the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to report the suspicious product.

Keep in mind that generic medications look different than branded medicines. Even generic medicines manufactured by a different company may appear different than your usual prescription. If you’re not sure, call the internet pharmacy or your health care provider.

If the prescription medicine does not have the same physical effects as in the past, or you experience unusual side effects, call your healthcare provider.

Choose a Reliable Internet Pharmacy

If you want to purchase insulin online, you may want to consider PharmaServe, which is a well-trusted brand and a safe and secure provider of prescription drugs.

Check out our many reviews from satisfied customers and the potential savings when you purchase insulin online. For more information, you may also contact our team at PharmaServe today.

Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS is a practicing clinical pharmacist that works in primary care. He supports other members of the healthcare team including physicians, mid-level providers, nurses, and other clinical staff. He also likes to use his drug knowledge to inform his patients and the public about the benefits and risks they can expect from their medications. His clinical specialties include: anticoagulation, diabetes management, and psychiatric care.

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