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Online Pharmacy Fraud

True or False? Buying drugs online without a prescription is perfectly legal.


According to the Federal Food and Drug Administration, it is a violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to dispense prescription drugs without a valid prescription. Even if you do have a prescription, be leery of fraudulent online pharmaceuticals. Many Internet pharmacies do not adhere to state licensing requirements and standards, which allow consumers to obtain prescription drugs without a prescription or physician’s approval. Often the origin of the prescription drug is unknown, increasing the likelihood of consumers receiving counterfeit, tainted, and diluted pharmaceuticals. Most of the fraudulent online pharmacy cases being investigated by law enforcement involve the sale of counterfeit pharmaceuticals to purchasers.

To purchase prescription drugs from these illegitimate Internet sites, a simple questionnaire is completed by the customer, and sometimes a doctor’s consultation fee is required. There are generally no examinations, lab tests, follow-ups, or medical records. Additionally, Internet pharmacies often attract doctors with troubled work histories including financial problems, substance abuse problems, and legal setbacks. In any case, the practice holds a serious health risk to anyone willing to participate in purchasing drugs online without a valid examination and prescription from a licensed physician. In fact, in the majority of fraudulent Internet pharmacy cases investigated, no legitimate review of the questionnaires submitted by purchasers was conducted.

Online Pharmacy Fraud incorporates numerous crimes and potentially dangerous health considerations. The scheme often starts with SPAM-level email circulation sent to potential customers offering a staggering variety of scheduled drugs without a prescription. Customers are sometimes required first to submit private information and fees for a membership. This may turn into the last contact they have with the company. Victims are now unable to recover their membership fee and faced with the fear of possible identity theft from a phishing scheme.

Additional crimes being committed by these online pharmacies may include copyright infringement, falsification of doctor approval, malware/intrusion, money laundering, false advertising, sale of non-FDA approved drugs, and violations of the Can Spam Act.

Why are there so many online pharmacies? It is very profitable for the culprits who have no medical background and will never meet their customers. The lucrative demand for such a service is overwhelming. Many “customers” don’t even realize they are potential victims to a variety of crimes and health risks. Numerous drugs are mass-produced in foreign countries without FDA approval, so even WITH a proper diagnosis and prescription, the customer has virtually no way of knowing what they are receiving in the mail, if he/she is ordering from an online pharmacy not referred by a licensed physician.

Analysis of pharmaceuticals purchased from fraudulent Internet pharmacies revealed that the potency and efficacy of the delivered product could vary wildly, with some pharmaceuticals containing no active ingredients at all.

More Information About Online Pharmacies

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