Ordering prescriptions online from overseas: is it safe? | LowestMed

You may have noticed an increase in conversation lately related to ordering prescriptions online, from overseas, as a way to better afford medications. Mentions of this practice are popping up in online forums, news story comment sections and social media posts, almost daily. It’s concerning and we want you to know ordering prescriptions online, from overseas pharmacies, is not a safe practice.

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Consumers are receiving mailers explaining how they can get medications from overseas for a fraction of the cost of U.S. pharmacies. The mailers explains the drugs come from countries where the FDA has identified poor quality standards for drug manufacturing and has implemented sanctions. The mailer says nothing about the manufacturing of the drug or registration with the FDA or National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) either.

Is ordering prescriptions online safe?

We do not recommend ordering prescriptions online or from mail-in programs claiming their drugs come from overseas. You run the risk of receiving counterfeit drugs or drugs manufactured with low quality standards. These types of counterfeit drugs can lead to dangerous side effects and are often made with the wrong amount of ingredients.

Most recently fake Xanax pills, that looked to be the real thing, popped up in San Francisco. They sent multiple people to the ER, one of which died. Fentanyl was used in production of the fake Zanax pills. Fentanyl is a cheap synthetic opioid that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says is 100 times more potent than morphine. This is one of the many reasons you should be extremely cautious when you consider ordering prescriptions online or travelling over borders to purchase a medication – the pills you receive could very well be counterfeit.

“The excessive and rising costs of prescription meds, including generics, is driving many Bilinguals/Hispanics in the U.S. down three very unhealthy and dangerous roads,” said Dr. Joseph Mosquera, MD. “About one third simply give up on the high costs and never get their prescriptions filled. Many end up in ERs with worsening and life threatening conditions. Others order meds discounted online from sources which are not regulated for safety and purity. This can result in life threatening reactions to adulterated or toxic meds. The third choice is traveling to Mexico or Canada for discounted prescriptions. Again, a significant percentage of manufacturers are selling unsafe, unregulated products. Patients should always use reliable sources for their prescriptions and use transparent drug savings apps which can make their meds affordable and safe.”

Signs you are dealing with a potentially unsafe online pharmacy or mailer

  • Sends you drugs with unknown quality or origin
  • It sends you unsolicited mailings that request credit card and personal information
  • Gives you the wrong drug or another dangerous product for your illness
  • Doesn’t provide a way to contact them by phone
  • May offer to sell Rx drugs without a prescription—this is against the law!
  • It may not protect your personal information
    Information from FDA.gov

These mailers ask for personal data, such as credit card numbers and prescription information. There is no need to provide credit card information to websites or mailers to receive a discount on your prescription.

What are the safest money saving options when filling a prescription?

Trusted pricing websites, like LowestMed, make it is easy to find discounts on your medications. LowestMed is not an online pharmacy, but is a drug price transparency tool, which helps you find discounts and guides you to safe U.S. pharmacies. This is the safest option when filling your prescription. Local pharmacies require a prescription written by your physician and the FDA closely monitors their quality standards. Furthermore, these pharmacies also only deal with drug manufacturers registered with the FDA, which makes them the safer option.

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It is nearly impossible for consumers to purchase drugs manufactured only in the U.S. This blog post focuses mainly on purchasing prescription drugs through mail order companies claiming they receive their drugs from overseas, which we do not recommend doing. We are not speaking to purchasing drugs at U.S. pharmacies or through online pharmacies accredited by the NABP.

About 40% of the legal medications Americans use every day come from outside the U.S. Two of the world’s leading drug exporters are from India and China. It is important to note, the FDA monitors these manufactures closely.

Information from FDA.gov and ConsumerReports.org.

LowestMed’s Health Information Center is meant for educational purposes and is not intended for medical advice. If you would like to recommend any story ideas, feel free to contact us.