NEW YORK The FDA's action to tackle the selling of unapproved or misbranded drugs through rogue Internet sites comes at a critical time, as economic woes have forced cash-strapped consumers to look for ways to save money and curb soaring healthcare costs. Aside from the significant health hazards, such Internet sites have a broad-reaching, negative economic impact.
Recognizing the importance of the FDA’s enforcement actions against such sites, the NACDS has expressed its support in a recent letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.Patients, especially in today’s tough economy, are being misled by the notion of cheaper prescription medications available online. The reality is that these drugs are often counterfeit, mislabeled or adulterated and pose a real danger to consumers.
Aside from the health risks, such Internet sites also negatively impact the retail pharmacy industry. According to the NACDS, the total economic impact of all retail stores with pharmacies exceeds their $815 billion in annual sales. In fact, every $1 spent in these stores creates a ripple effect of $3.82 in other industries, for a total economic impact of $3.11 trillion — or 26% of GDP.
However, this is an issue that isn’t likely to go away overnight. While the NACDS helped to pass the “Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act” in the 110th Congress, the NACDS stresses in its letter that policies must be adopted to ensure all entities — such as Internet search engines, credit card companies and the U.S. postal service — are involved in, and make a contribution toward, solving the problem.