If you have a chronic pain illness, there’s a pretty good chance you take one or more prescription medications. As the cost of your medication increases, you may be tempted to order discounted drugs from an online pharmacy––but be careful. Because the Internet has become such an integral part of our lives, we sometimes forget that we cannot trust everything we read. The Internet has no borders and is, therefore, extremely difficult to regulate. Unscrupulous people can pretty much say and do whatever they like, protected by the anonymity of a complicated technical infrastructure.
Let the Buyer Beware
Before you even consider placing an order, be sure to investigate the site thoroughly. While there are some legitimate, reputable pharmacies on the Internet, there are an increasing number of fraudulent sites. These sites may:
- sell fake or counterfeit drugs.
- sell drugs that are stronger or weaker than they should be.
- sell medications that are contaminated.
- send you drugs manufactured in countries with few, if any, safety standards.
- send you medications that have not been properly stored or shipped.
- not send you anything at all because they are actually fronts for credit card fraud and identity theft.
Examples of Fraud
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration discovered that several people who had ordered the drugs Ambien, Xanax, Lexapro or Ativan from online pharmacies instead received a medication containing haloperidol, a powerful anti-psychotic drug.
One site that calls itself MyCanadianPharmacy is actually a Russian (or possibly Ukrainian) spam operation that is wanted by numerous international law enforcement agencies. They front as a pharmacy in Canada, offering amazing savings on popular drugs. However, no one has ever received any medications ordered from them because their true purpose is to get your credit card number.
Interestingly, there is another spam message being sent out that tries to play on your concerns about pharmaceutical scams. The e-mail says it is from the United States National Medical Association. They claim to be a watchdog agency, protecting the customer from fraudulent sites selling bogus drugs. However, if you click on the link provided, you will not see a list of fraudulent sites, but instead you will be taken directly to the MyCanadianPharmacy site (see above).