The growth in online drug sales by reputable pharmacies is a trend that can be beneficial. However, illegal prescription and selling of drugs online can place consumers at serious risk.
Under federal and state laws, a licensed health care practitioner generally must conduct a physical exam before prescribing a drug for the first time. However, Internet sales of prescription drugs are sometimes based only on the answers to a questionnaire. The risks consumers run by accepting these illicit offers include adverse side effects for the wrong medicine, dangerous drug interactions, and harm from contaminated, counterfeit or outdated drugs.
Warning signs for internet drug shoppers include web sites that are not registered on a search engine, that offer to prescribe drugs without a physician’s examination, or that sell unapproved medicines.
In response to these concerns, the Food and Drug Administration is expanding its monitoring of Internet sites and will take action where warranted.