One of the things that many seniors do in looking to save money on prescription drug costs is to look to online pharmacies, in particular Canadian pharmacies, for their medications.
I cannot understate the danger of this practice, regardless of the costs involved, which I am going to show you how to minimize at the end of this article.
But for the moment, it is my hope to scare you to death (in many cases this has happened literally to the unfortunate individuals purchasing their medications) about the dangers of buying medications online.
Then, once you realize what a dubious practice this is, I will talk about saving money on your prescriptions.
The US System
In the US we have a very closed, secured supply chain. This covers the manufacturers of the medications, wholesalers, companies that transport the drugs to and from their destination, pharmacies, the individual pharmacist, nurses, physicians, etc…
This loop is very tightly controlled. The FDA approves all drugs as well as labeling in the US. These rules cover both prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
There are a lot of people that are involved in the regulatory process.
America is one of the few countries with a closed, secure, drug supply chain and has the safest drugs in the world.
The FDA even covers drugs manufactured outside the US. Before a drug is approved for US distribution, FDA regulators visit the facility manufacturing it (even if it is in India) and make sure the standards are being met in order for the drugs to be sold in the USA.
How Patients Are Endangered By Supply Chain Breaks
The most common way that this distribution chain is broken is by the patients. Such causes include…
- Buying online from a non-VIPPS pharmacy
- Buying from an offline non-pharmacy
There are other, less common causes of breaks in the supply chain…
- Physicians, pharmacists and distributors buying from unlicensed distributors or buying from fraudulent websites and wholesalers.
- Manufacturing supply chain producer errors
These last two mentioned are EXTREMELY rare in the USA, but it is possible.
Is Your Online Pharmacy Safe?
Well, if you are purchasing your medications online, you are playing with fire. The NAPB (National Association of Boards of Pharmacy) maintains a list of sites that are not recommended for you to purchase your medications from.
As a matter of fact the NAPB maintains a list of criteria for approval of websites into the “safe” designation…and 97% of websites they have researched DO NOT fit this criteria.
What Dangers Do You Expose Yourself To Buying From These Rogue Sites
- They may sell fake or contaminated medications that could harm your health or be fatal.
- May take your money and never send you the product.
- May exist solely to steal your identity.
And the worst part is that trying to shut a website down is difficult.
- 39% register their domain name anonymously
- 41% operate their site from a server outside the US
- 61% have no physical address listed. Another 23% have the address listed as outside the USA
- 88% do not require a valid prescription to order the medications. You just order what you want…and this can be fatal to the person purchasing the medications.
This makes it extremely hard to shut them down.
Another problem is that these rogue sites are also in the habit of stealing your credit card information. So in addition to selling you unregulated drugs of poor quality they turn you into a victim of identity theft.
What are the most common medications that are sold by these sites…cialis, viagra and pain killers. Many times these rogue sites offer a “generic” version of cialis and viagra. The problem is that the generic versions of viagra and cialis are illegal in the US as they are patented drugs.
Where Do These Fake Drugs Come From?
1) Almost all are manufactured outside the USA
2) China and India are two of the biggest producers
3) But others include Pakistan, Turkey, Mexico, Columbia, Russia and Indonesia
And finally, one of the biggest myths is that Canadian drugs online are cheaper than American. In reality, the generic alternative of most medications is cheaper than buying through a Canadian pharmacy, especially when using a prescription drug discount card (see below).
Plus it is ILLEGAL for a Canadian pharmacist to fill a US prescription!
So How Do You Save Money In A Safe Manner?
- Only use VIPPS online pharmacies. If you are looking for a list of reputable websites, click here. Even if the cost is higher you at least are getting a reputable product.
- Go to the Partnership for Prescription Drug Assistance to see if you qualify for aid in obtaining your medications.
- Download my prescription drug discount card. Even if you have no insurance this will save you 50%-80% off of the cost of your medications.
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