Fake Pharmacies Strike Again
A call came into my office from Alabama recently. Not knowing anyone in that state, I found this curious. The gentleman calling from Alabama said that he had a question about his prescription and also said that the bottle of pills had my name on it, as the prescribing doctor. How could that be?!? I am nowhere near Alabama and had never had any contact with this person in my life.
After asking the man where he got these pills, the confusion became clear. A fake pharmacy struck again. He used a notorious website called “Rapid Meds.com” to get what he thought was a legitimate medication, but who knows what was in the pills or where they came from. According to him, no prescription or doctor was required, all he had to do was just fill out a questionnaire. Just fill out the questionnaire to get prescription drugs??!? That should scream “FRAUD”. I guess he has not heard about all the counterfeit pills coming in from South America, Eastern Europe, Africa and other dark corners of the world.
Just recently, the television program “60 Minutes” profiled the worldwide problem of counterfeit medications. Our government is so powerless to stop the flow of fake pills that companies like Pfiezer have to hire private teams of investigators to seek and destroy this multi-million dollar criminal industry. Even a highly trained eye would have a hard time telling the difference between a real Viagra and a fake Viagra. These fake pills are made of all kinds of junk like corn starch and have very little if any real active ingredients. While the 60 Minutes cameras were rolling, a big bust took place in Peru. The unsanitary conditions, the incredibly genuine looking packaging and the amounts of fake pills were truly eye opening. Wow, fraudulent pharmacies and fake pills are a huge problem.
Back to the tip of an iceberg in Alabama… Had this gentleman been aware of the list of bad internet sites claiming to be legitimate pharmacies, he might have avoided wasting his money or risking his health. Had this gentleman been aware of how to safely buy medications on the internet, he might have avoided his mistake. Now, he is left with a “smoking” bottle of fake pills with seemingly no recourse.
Now, do you think that as a doctor I am pretty upset to have bottles of fraudulent medications with my name on them? You bet! And this is not the first time or even the second time this has happened. I have contacted the FBI, DOJ, DEA, and my local SO. Either nobody cares or nobody can do anything. The internet is the Wild West; only worse, because in this virtual world full of outlaws not even the law of a six shooter exists.
Although this single transaction is just a small blip on the law enforcement radar screen, it still represents the huge problem of counterfeit medications. This single transaction on a fake pharmacy site has two victims: one in California and the other in Alabama. Both complete strangers to each other; yet bound to each other within the huge web of counterfeit drugs. Many victims are out there, don’t become one of them. Stay informed, stay attentive, stay alive.
Christina Lasich, M.D., wrote about chronic pain and osteoarthritis for HealthCentral. She is physiatrist in Grass Valley, California. She specializes in pain management and spine rehabilitation.