Looks Can Be Deceiving

Published January 1, 2004

If you buy foreign medicine from an Internet site, a storefront business that orders foreign medicine, or during visits outside the U.S., you are taking a risk. There is no guarantee the medicine is safe.

Foreign medicines not approved for sale in the U.S. may not have been manufactured under procedures used to make safe and effective products.

Some imported medicines–even those that look like the real thing–may be counterfeit versions and unsafe or completely ineffective. Numerous reports of illness related to foreign drugs have been documented. One death has been documented as a result of prescription drugs bought in Mexico.

Some imported medicines and their ingredients, although legal in foreign countries, may not have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness in the U.S.

Some medicines, imported or not, are unsafe when taken without adequate medical supervision. You need a medical evaluation to ensure the medicine is right for you and your condition.

If you purchase drugs from foreign countries, the medicine’s label, including instructions for use and possible side effects, may be in a language you do not understand or improperly translated into English.

An imported medicine may lack information needed to treat you for a dangerous side effect caused by the medicine.

We encourage you to contact your physician or your local pharmacist. Remember, foreign medicines may be unsafe or ineffective.

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.