Buyer Beware

Published January 1, 2003

People take a lot of risk buying prescriptions over the Internet. While Canada seems to be where the action is, Americans are also buying re-imported drugs from Mexico, Israel, Austria, Ireland, Italy, and China, to name a few.

The Food and Drug Administration says it can’t vouch for the safety of re-imported foreign drugs or those sold over the Internet. There is no way to tell the origin of the drugs, their quality, their effectiveness, or their safety.

The FDA warns re-imported drugs raise serious safety concerns since they could be counterfeit, contaminated, expired, or mislabeled. A Florida grand jury warns a black market has surfaced on the southern borders of the United States. Florida’s wholesale pharmaceutical industry has been corrupted by a criminal element making a fortune selling tainted drugs all over the country.

Seniors should worry they would be taking pills with no guarantee those drugs are safe or that they are getting the exact drug their doctor prescribed. No foreign source of prescription drugs accepts responsibility for any harmful effects or deaths from re-imported drugs.

A safe way to reduce costs is to contact your local pharmacist and ask about the many discount drug plans available from America’s pharmaceutical companies.

IT’S YOUR HEALTH is written by Conrad Meier, senior fellow in health policy at The Heartland Institute. This program is produced as a public service by Radio America. Meier passed away unexpectedly on March 18, 2005.