Rogue Pharmacies

Published January 1, 2005

There are a growing number of unscrupulous Internet Web sites that deceive the public into believing they can purchase quality prescription drugs at half the cost without a doctor’s prescription. Consumers who have bypassed their doctor and a licensed pharmacist fail to understand the risk.

Rogue pharmacies, which operate offshore, overseas, or in Canada, are unregulated by federal and state authorities. A growing number of consumers who have purchased prescriptions from these rogue pharmacies are now reporting their drugs have passed their expiration dates, have been diluted or contaminated, or are counterfeit.

Because these illegal pharmacies are unregulated, consumers could also unknowingly receive their prescription in the wrong dosage … or be given the wrong drug entirely.

How to identify the fakers:

  • They often do not identify a physical address. Investigations have discovered that Web sites claiming to be “just across the border in Canada” were actually located in Thailand, Beirut, Pakistan, or China.
  • They do not require a doctor visit to get a prescription.
  • Rather than carry a full inventory of drugs, like a legitimate pharmacy, they emphasize only popular drugs, painkillers, weight loss, and impotence drugs.
  • They inundate consumers with unsolicited e-mails.
  • They require consumers to release the pharmacy and its staff from liability, even if the pharmacy dispensed the wrong or counterfeit medication.

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.