The old adage “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” carries a lot of weight in the prescription drug world. Unfortunately, appearance alone does not serve as a good test for whether the prescription drugs we’re receiving are real! At WBCBaltimore (www.wbcbaltimore.com) we’ve been on the alert to help plan sponsors stay clear of questionable drug channels.
As prescription drug costs continue to escalate, plan sponsors and consumers are searching for more affordable alternatives. Many have been attracted to the promise of significantly lower costs by having prescriptions filled at pharmacies outside the U.S. These prescriptions are for just about everything, including antibiotics, erectile dysfunction medication, cholesterol-lowering drugs and even cancer treatment. The problem is that many of those less costly options are not the real thing! The World Health Organization estimates that 15% of the world’s drug supply is counterfeit. The prescription bottles and tablets look real enough, but it’s the ingredients (or lack thereof) that can kill you! 32% of the counterfeits have none of the necessary active ingredient that enables the medication to effectively treat a patient. Others have the wrong combination or are contaminated with potentially life-threatening contaminants.
The Internet and the ease of creating a professional looking website, has enabled online pharmacy commerce to explode. A recent study by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy have reviewed over 10,000 pharmacy sites and found that only 3% of these online pharmacies are in compliance with pharmacy laws and practice standards. With that being said, there are legitimate online operations for those who prefer to shop online and hope to obtain greater potential savings. Patients should look for websites that display the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (“VIPPS”) seal. These sites are duly-licensed pharmacies selling only FDA-approved drugs. There are currently 30 sites that have earned this accreditation. Remember, real cheap may make you real sick!