Fake drugs, real worries
High prices and the Internet are making U.S. patients easy prey
In exchange for the safety of drugs most Americans take for granted, some may be able to buy more of the medications they need at prices they can afford. It's too soon to tell if the trade-off will be worth it.
A checkup for web pharmacies
There are two programs set up to evaluate Internet pharmacies. One, the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites, run by the National of Boards of Pharmacy, certifies pharmacies that meet licensing and inspection requirements for their state, as well as for each state to which they dispense pharmaceuticals. Only 13 Internet sites qualify. PharmacyChecker.com, the other program, is a free service that allows consumers to compare drug prices at a variety of Internet sites. It has rated 44 online pharmacies in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Israel, and elsewhere.
Gabriel Levitt, director of research and operations for PharmacyChecker.com, offers these tips for choosing a reliable online pharmacy:
Licenses count: A pharmacy site licensed by a government authority is likely to protect its license by using good pharmaceutical practices.
Provide a script: Internet sites that require prescriptions signed by doctors are more reliable.
Get an address: If the online pharmacy discloses no address or phone number, surf on. -Amanda Spake