The U.K. Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson recently warned against buying flu drugs over the Internet expressing concern about potentially dangerous counterfeit drugs.US Customs agents have intercepted a shipment of Tamiflu entering the United States that was vitamin C capsules packaged as Tamiflu.and had been sold over the Internet.
The World Health Organization believes 25% of the medicines used in developing countries could be are counterfeit or contain unacceptable drug levels or contaminants. There does not seem to be a readily available estimate for the U.S. but one could presume that the same numbers might apply to drugs bought over the Internet from online sources that are not legitimate registered pharmacies requiring prescriptions. Legitimate online pharmacies should prominently display the .has th VIPPS seal of approval. VIPPS stands for Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy also maintains a website listing pharmacies who have been given the right to use the seal at napb.net.
Contact lenses are also sold over the Internet and there have been at least two reported cases of large batches of counterfeit lenses being sold online. In addition, a gray market exists where contact lenses and other medical devices are sold over the Internet to U.S. clients. Gray markets are products manufactured for markets in other countries and often made and handled with different standards. Personally, I am aware of incidents with food products in past years where items were left for days on docks in inadequate storage and conditions that would probably cause you to never purchase a well known brand again. According to the FDA Consumers risk missing out on necessary medical treatment or being harmed if they use devices illegally marketed or sold through the Internet. The FDA has received reports of sight-threatening corneal ulcers from using non-corrective decorative contact lenses that were distributed without a prescription. The problems with stopping counterfeit products over the Internet was explained on the FDA website as follows:
Use Caution Buying Medical Products Online Get prescription drugs fast–no doctor needed! Cure cancer with herbs! Zap your pain away with an amazing device! Absolutely safe–pull out your credit card NOW, and get rock-bottom prices.
It’s not hard to find statements like these floating around in cyberspace. “And if they sound too good to be true, it’s because they usually are,” says Rich Cleland, assistant director of the Division of Advertising Practices at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Many legitimate Web sites bring customers health products with the benefits of convenience, privacy and, sometimes, cheaper prices. “But consumers need to be aware that the Internet has also created a marketplace for unapproved medical products, illegal prescribing, and products marketed with fraudulent health claims,” says William Hubbard, former associate commissioner for policy and planning at the Food and Drug Administration.”And the unique qualities of the Internet, including its broad reach, relative anonymity, and the ease of creating and removing Web sites, pose challenges for enforcing federal and state laws,” Hubbard says. “Many sites are connected to other sites and have multiple links, which makes investigations more complex. And there are jurisdictional challenges because the regulatory and enforcement issues cross state, federal, and international lines.”
Government agencies work together to shut down illegal Web sites and prosecute criminals, but enforcement resources are limited. “Consumers need to take some responsibility for recognizing suspicious sites and turning the other way,” Hubbard says. So how can you spot the red flags? Here’s a guide to help you protect your health and your wallet.
With the advent of the Flu Pandemic the return of the influenza cycle this fall will create much hype, even if it remains in it’s current mild form. The profit in counterfiet drugs like Tamiflu will probably increase the amount of fake and possibly harmful drugs sold over the Internet. With drugs or medical devices like contact lenses it is always best to know your source. Our Fort Collins Eye Doctors
and Contact Lens Practice currently offers online refills and drop shipments of contact lenses direct to your doorstep from the manufacturer and their approved vendors for your convenience and safety. It is completely acceptable to use this new avenue to purchase your prescription medications but make sure you know your source for your family’s safety.