97 Percent of Online Pharmacies Are Unsafe

By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor

Only 3 percent of online pharmacies are safe to use, according to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.

The vast majority of web-based medication merchants fail to meet the U.S. standards for pharmaceutical quality and safety.

A recent Federal Drug Administration (FDA) survey found that 25 percent of internet shoppers have used an internet drugstore to purchase their prescription medication, despite the fact that almost one-third of respondents admitted that they were not sure how to determine a website’s authenticity and safety.

The Hidden Costs of Cheaper Meds

The online pharmacy model, lures consumers in with the promise of inexpensive medications that can conveniently be ordered from the couch. This scenario can be particularly attractive for those trying to save money in a down economy.

But, taking advantage of this seemingly win-win situation can result in severe consequences, particularly if you’re taking several different prescriptions to manage multiple health conditions.

According to the FDA, faux pharmacies present a variety of potential dangers for the unwary shopper.

A lot of online pharmacies aren’t controlled by the FDA, so the medications they’re selling don’t have to meet the FDA’s requirements for effectiveness and safety.

When you purchase prescriptions over the internet, you run the risk of receiving medications that are expired, counterfeit, contaminated, or made with different ingredients than their federal and state-regulated counter-parts. Any one of these issues can drastically affect the effectiveness and safety of a particular prescription drug.

Identity fraud is another hazard of using unknown online pharmacies.

Many web-based brokers don’t have the necessary defenses in place to protect sensitive information. Some even exist solely as fronts to steal personal and financial information from unsuspecting consumers.

The Dangers of Buying Prescriptions Online
How To Buy Medications Online Safely
Questions To Ask Your Doctor About Medications
97 Percent Of Online Pharmacies Unsafe, Warns FDA originally appeared on AgingCare.com.

How to Spot a Dependable Druggist

The FDA offers advice on how to determine whether an online pharmacy is legitimate.

Signs a Web-Based Pharmacy Can’t Be Trusted:

  • They are not based or licensed in the United States
  • They let you purchase medications without a doctor’s prescription
  • They charge suspiciously low fees for prescription medications

Signs a Web-Based Pharmacy Can Be Trusted:

  • They have a physical address and phone number in the United States
  • They won’t sell you a medication unless you have a doctor’s prescription
  • They provide an on-call pharmacist to answer questions and are licensed by your state’s board of pharmacy

For more information on safely purchasing medications online, you can visit the FDA’s BeSafeRx website.

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By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor


Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra5 years ago

Thank you AgingCare, for Sharing this!

Eternal Gardener
Eternal G5 years ago

That's horrific, people need protection.

Wim Zunnebeld
Wim Zunnebeld5 years ago

noted, thx for the info

Fiona Dudley
Fiona Dudley5 years ago

Thanks Lee G. for an excellent and helpful reply!

Kay Caldwell

Thanks for the info.

Dale Overall

Interesting as a number of drug companies don't like the Canadian on line sites because prices are lower. Some are popular with some Americans because the prices in Canada are less expensive and there have been quite a number of Americans living in border towns that have crossed the border to obtain medications. One would be prudent to use caution when buying on line but that goes for practically everything.

Violeta S.

good to know.

rene davis
irene davis5 years ago


Betty Haniotakis
Betty H5 years ago

I would like to commend those who pointed out that this study, paid for by an interested party, is almost certainly biased, and should not be accepted uncritically. It would be like accepting a report by the Meat Packers Association that vegetarianism is unhealthy!

Marie W.
Marie W5 years ago