Internet pharmacies an option, if you do your homework
I'm a bargain shopper and love the simplicity of online shopping, but when it comes to medications, my health and safety come first. Ordering prescriptions online can be safe and cost-effective if you make sure to be smart about your choices.
Legitimate online pharmacies will require a prescription from a licensed doctor and make you submit a detailed medical history, according to the FBI, which has "made Internet pharmacy fraud one of its top health care fraud priorities."
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) also accredits sites with its Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site (VIPPS) seal of approval.
"VIPPS certification requires that online pharmacies be licensed in every state to which they ship drugs," according to the Better Business Bureau. "In addition, sites must meet standards for patient privacy, quality assurance, authentication and security of prescriptions and communication between patients and pharmacists."
The appeal of ordering medications online is great, considering the discounts, simplicity and the ability to avoid looks of disgust from those behind the counter, but the results can be devastating.
Many fraudulent online drug companies "use questionable professional practices and do not protect customers' personal information," leaving your financial and medical records floating around freely in cyberspace.
Never mind the threat of identity theft, the counterfeit drugs distributed by these companies could steal your life. Since these companies rarely know your true medical history or current medication, harmful effects from the manipulated drugs and the chance of deadly pill cocktails are greater.
Luckily, the NABP has provided some warning signs. If the company does not require a prescription, has limited medications or does not have a phone number or address listed, you should be very wary. The NABP said "over 50 percent of counterfeit cases come from Internet sites that conceal their actual physical address. Any deviation from your legitimate prescription, such as labeling, pill shape or color, should be a red flag; do not ingest and talk to your local pharmacist before taking further action. "
If you suspect a drug to be counterfeit, contact the NABP at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit www.nabp.net.
New writer takes the reins on behalf of consumers
Action has a new look today, and a new byline to boot!
It's been a privilege to serve Times readers for the last eight years with the column, four of them writing. I learned more about the world of customer service, consumer law and human nature than I ever dreamed.
I hope you learned a little too.
As my focus moves behind the scenes in the newsroom, I'm happy to hand the column over to Emily Rieman. Her energy, natural curiosity and ability to get to the heart of an issue will serve you well.
Thank you for inviting me into your homes, and keep those letters coming!