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A press release from the FDA is warning consumers about the dangers of buying medications on the Internet. The agency stated that those who are looking for inexpensive drugs do not need to resort to the Internet. There are many generic brands of drugs that cost less.

The FDA is also concerned that consumers may be buying foreign drugs over the Internet to avoid having to get a prescription from their physician. They warn that this practice is unsafe and having a prescription from a doctor generally ensures a patients’ health. Some drugs are associated with a higher risk and require supervision from a health care professional.

Consumers should be aware of safety concerns of drugs purchased from unregulated Internet sellers since some of these drugs might:

require careful dosing and monitoring;
not have adequate labeling for safe use;
be inappropriately packaged, therefore product integrity is uncertain;
have been withdrawn from the U.S. market for safety or efficacy reasons;
may carry risks that require initial screening and/or periodic patient monitoring;
cause harm–such as a controlled substance (narcotic), whose use should be supervised by a doctor or health care professional due to abuse potential; and
have clinically significant drug-drug interactions.

Consumers should know that most drugs available on the Internet are available in the U.S. and are normally less expensive that if bought through national pharmacy chain programs. Also, consumers have to worry about the risk of receiving counterfeit drugs. There are many potential dangers of buying medicine online, and consumers should make sure they are aware of them.

For more information on this subject, please refer to our section on Drugs, Medical Devices, and Implants.

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