Internet Prescribing - Information for Consumers
To be a savvy shopper, it's important to be fully informed. You need to know about
the merchandise being ordered, the company providing the product, from where it
is being shipped, and assurance that there is some recourse if you're dissatisfied.
This is important when ordering a camera, but it is vital when it comes to drugs
that can endanger your health.
In recent months, there has been an explosion of online pharmacies on the Internet.
There are those that are operating legally and providing great service to customers
by conveniently filling prescriptions at a lower price. There are companies, however,
that are operating illegally by not only selling drugs, but prescribing them as
Few people like to go to the doctor to be examined. It's human nature to avoid discussion
about conditions that cause embarrassment, and sometimes shame. While it's human
nature, the avoidance of the doctor's office, in some instances, can be dangerous
and even life threatening.
Recently, online ordering of prescription medication has become very popular with
the public and profitable for the sellers. Selling Viagra and Xenical on the Internet
has particularly preyed on consumers' desire to stay out of the doctor's office
and maintain anonymity. Is that a good idea? Probably not. Many of the conditions
which you may be attempting to treat have underlying medical causes that should
be evaluated by your physician during an actual examination. If contemplating obtaining
prescriptions through the Internet, consumers should consider the following:
- Ordering drugs without a relationship with a physician is potentially dangerous.
By law, with very limited exceptions, prescription drugs must be prescribed by a
physician after a good faith examination has been performed and a medical indication
for the prescription has been determined. There is good reason for this, as drugs
should only be prescribed after an examination is performed and the cause of the
problem or condition is diagnosed. Online "consultations" cannot, with any certainty,
provide enough information to make a verifiable diagnosis.
- Many of the sites offering prescriptions for drugs are operating illegally. In California,
the law requires that physicians and pharmacists be licensed, and that physicians
perform a physical exam prior to prescribing drugs. It is generally impossible for
consumers to determine the licensing status of the physician or pharmacist by the
information on Internet pharmacy websites. In addition, many sites only require
a questionnaire and do not verify the most basic facts needed for physicians to
prescribe pharmaceuticals safely.
- Self-diagnosing can be dangerous, and treating a symptom without determining the
underlying cause may mask symptoms that will prevent appropriate treatment of a
serious, and maybe life-threatening, disease or condition.
- All drugs, particularly prescription drugs, have the potential for dangerous side
effects. After the prescription is sold, it is likely that the prescribing online
physician will not be available to help you. Patients need a physician with whom
they have a relationship to monitor and treat their conditions for a number of very
good reasons. In the event of side effects, if the condition worsens, or if there
is an interaction with other drugs, each patient needs a physician who is aware
of his or her condition and the medications.
- Many Internet pharmacy sites are not within California, and some are outside of
the United States, which may leave consumers with little recourse should they be
displeased with the service or the quality of drugs provided.
- While the price of some drugs is dramatically less on some sites, the drug shipped
may not be the drug ordered. It may be something entirely different or it may be
adulterated. Postal authorities regularly seize shipments of pharmaceuticals being
sent from overseas, and what they find should be cause for concern to consumers.
They frequently discover adulterated, counterfeit, and mislabeled drugs.
Ordering prescription drugs online is certainly convenient. If you have a prescription
from your doctor, there is no reason that you should not order them from a reputable
business through the Internet. As with all purchases, however, consumers should
check out the business before providing payment. Organizations, such as the Better
Business Bureau, also have merchants who are online. To checkout online vendors
who have BBB membership, or to find helpful tips and publications about ordering
anything through the Internet, please click the link below. The Federal Trade Commission
also has helpful publications about many consumer issues You also may find more
information concerning drugs for sale over the Internet from the Food & Drug