Consumers Must Use Caution When Shopping Online For Medications

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Shopping Online For Medications

American Pharmacists Association recommends that consumers exercise caution when shopping online for their medications.

This announcement comes after the recent death of a Canadian woman who purchased counterfeit drugs online. A coroner's report found that the products were contaminated with extremely high levels of metal. Prior to shopping online, APhA advises consumers to first talk to their pharmacist about their unmet medication needs. APhA strongly cautions consumers to be vigilant because, as this unfortunate death indicates, products imported from other countries may contain ingredients that are harmful to humans and animals.


"Consumers should be aware that they might be putting themselves or loved ones at risk by purchasing medications online," said Dr. John A. Gans, Executive Vice President and CEO. "To protect your health and welfare, you need to do your homework."

APhA urges consumers to take the following precautions if they choose to shop for medications online:

1. Only Buy Medications from Reputable Vendors. Today, many leading U.S.- based retailers and managed healthcare providers allow consumers to order their medications online. These websites require consumers to provide a valid prescription from their physician and require that a pharmacist be available to answer questions. When in doubt, check with your state board of pharmacy. Some legitimate Internet pharmacies are certified.

2. Review, Ask and Tell. When a medication arrives, review the package labeling and inspect the contents before taking the medication. Do you notice differences in size, shape, color or smell? If you have a question, first call the company you purchased the medication from. If you believe you have received a counterfeit product, tell your pharmacist and doctor.

3. Talk to Your Pharmacist.