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Internet Drugs Can Kill: The Pharmacist Responds

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Is Buying Prescription Medication Online Safe? On November 1, Steve Pociask, the president and CEO of the American Consumer Institute’s Center for Citizen Research, wrote a scathing article on The Huffington Post Blog alarmingly titled “Internet Drugs Can Kill.”

“Consumers in the United States are largely unaware of the dangers of purchasing counterfeit drugs from online pharmacies. This naivety is contributing to what is becoming a major public health issue. In most cases, fake drugs are not safe, nor are they effective. These drugs can lead to greater sickness or even death,” Pociask says.

This is exactly the type of hysterical nonsense that needs to be avoided in reporting. It not only alarms the public, but it creates a culture of fear around the prescription drug industry, which is becoming more and more expensive.

While counterfeit drugs sometimes end up in the pharmaceutical supply chain, the primary source of counterfeit drugs is online pharmacies. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy found that 97 percent of the Internet pharmacies it examined are not compliant with federal or state laws as well as industry standards.


This statistic is a “well duh” moment because reliable internet pharmacies are largely found outside the U.S. in countries with more consumer-centric pricing and thus are compliant with local rules and regulations. At, we are compliant with local legislature through our bricks-and-mortar location in  Bet Shemesh and, in my case, I am fully compliant with Israeli pharmacy law and practices.

The FDA can neither monitor the sheer number of packages coming into the U.S., nor should it have to. What the FDA should focus on is educating the consumer on what to look out for when purchasing medications online. The simple fact is that patients cannot afford healthcare in the U.S. and, with the emergence of global, cross-border pharmacies, not having access to legitimate sources of medication is going to cause sickness and death in far greater numbers than counterfeit drugs. As a specialty internet pharmacist, I have never come across counterfeit drugs, and, if you know what to look for, you can avoid these completely.

Know Your Online Pharmacy is a good program and looking for legitimacy in internet pharmacy is easy, and there are a few simple questions you can ask yourself to find out whether you’ve chosen a legitimate, reliable, secure online pharmacy that isn’t going to give you counterfeit or dangerous prescription medication.

  1. Does your online pharmacy require a prescription?
  2. Does the online pharmacy hide their whereabouts or the names of the pharmacists and owners?
  3. Does the online pharmacy offer you free bonus medication?
  4. Does the online pharmacy sell controlled substances?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, there’s a high likelihood that the “pharmacy” you’re dealing with is rogue and not a reliable source of quality prescription medication. At IsraelPharm, we pride ourselves on not stocking or selling any subpar or questionably produced prescription drugs so that when you buy prescriptions online you know you’re in good hands.

In fact, we’re so committed to our customers and shooting down alarmist articles like this one on The Huffington Post that we’re going to start adding where each of our drugs were manufactured to each of the medication information pages. If you ever have questions about where your medication is coming from, don’t hesitate to ask — we have nothing to hide and are more than happy to provide you with as much information as possible to build your trust and confidence.

Is buying medication online safe? It can be — but you have to do your homework first. Alarmists like Pociask should reconsider their comments, especially as healthcare costs in the U.S. skyrocket and consumers need more options.

This post comes from Saul Kaye, IsraelPharm’s in-house pharmacist with more than 15 years of experience in community pharmacy in Israel. Questions? Email Saul!

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