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Campaign Targets Counterfeit Medicines, Illegal Online Drug Sellers

Half of drugs purchased online are fake or counterfeit

With illegal online pharmacies proliferating, the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP) has launched “Buy Safe Rx,” a campaign to educate consumers about the potentially life-threatening health and financial risks associated with buying prescription medicines online.

“These days, buying prescription drugs on the Internet is easy, but finding a safe source for those medicines is not,” said ASOP Global Founder and Executive Director Libby Baney. “Of the 35,000 to 50,000 active online drug sellers, 97% do not comply with U.S. laws, and 50% of medicines sold online are fake or counterfeit.”

Counterfeit products sold by illegal online drug sellers often are manufactured in unsafe conditions; contain no active ingredients; and/or contain dangerous substances, including floor wax, mercury, concrete, chalk, boric acid, road tar, paint, antifreeze and other poisons. “This means that consumers are just a click away from buying products that may cause harm, treatment failure, or even death,” Baney said.

Illegal online pharmacies are big business, the largest of which generate millions in sales each month, and the anonymous and international nature of the Internet makes the criminals difficult to prosecute. “The problem is further exacerbated by the fact that unknowing consumers provide their personal and credit card information to these criminals, putting them at tremendous risk for identity theft,” Baney added.

A report issued in April 2015 by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) reviewed nearly 11,000 Internet drug outlets, finding that 96.2% (10,544) operate out of compliance with U.S. pharmacy laws and practice standards. The report also found that approximately 88.3% of NABP’s “Not Recommended” sites are selling prescription drugs without requiring a valid prescription. In addition, approximately 62% do not provide a valid address, and nearly 50% offer drugs that are either foreign or not FDA-approved. Further, of the 10,521 “Not Recommended” sites, 91% can be traced to affiliate networks of rogue Internet drug outlets.

ASOP has created a Share Your Story page on its website where consumers can confidentially talk about their experiences with illegal online drug sellers and counterfeit medicines.

Source: ASOP; May 14, 2015.

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