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SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration has launched a campaign designed to educate consumers about online rogue pharmacies, the agency said Friday.
The FDA announced the launch of BeSafeRx, which includes resources for patients and caregivers who might purchase medications online.
According to a new FDA survey, nearly one quarter of Internet consumers has purchased prescription drugs online, but nearly 30% said they lacked confidence about how to make safe online purchases. But the risk of purchasing from rogue pharmacies is high, the FDA said, and according to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, less than 3% of online pharmacies meet state and federal laws.
"Buying medicines from rogue online pharmacies can be risky because they may sell fake, expired, contaminated, not approved by FDA or otherwise unsafe products that are dangerous to patients," FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg said. "Fraudulent and illegal online pharmacies often offer deeply discounted products. If the low prices seem too good to be true, they probably are."
Fake pharmacies, according to the FDA, use various means to appear legitimate, but patients should only buy drugs online from pharmacies that require a valid prescription from a doctor or other professional, are located in the United States, have a licensed pharmacist available for consultation and are licensed by the patient's state board of pharmacy.