National Consumers League

NCL joins education campaign to help seniors safely buy drugs online

counterfeit_Drugs_icon.jpgThis week, the National Consumers League (NCL) joined forces with the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP Global), and the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP) in launching a campaign to educate seniors and their caregivers about the health and financial risks associated with buying prescription medicines from illegal or rogue online pharmacies. 

Over the last century, the number of Americans aged 65 and older has increased exponentially, and studies show that this trend will continue for the foreseeable future. While the elderly are living longer, many older adults depend on a multitude of prescription drugs to maintain their quality of life and to combat many of the problems that may arise with aging, such as chronic diseases. Approximately nine out of 10 older adults have at least one chronic disease, and nine out of 10 older Americans rely on at least one prescription medication on a regular basis. As adults 65 and older account for over one-third of all prescription medications and with many seniors living on fixed incomes, it is not surprising that they are looking for opportunities to purchase their necessary medications at cheaper prices.

Unfortunately, seniors are particularly vulnerable to unknowingly purchasing counterfeit drugs in an effort to find a more convenient and affordable means to obtain the medications they need. Of course, there are many online pharmacies that operate legally and are perfectly safe. However, there are many rogue online pharmacy sites that sell potentially dangerous, or even deadly, drugs that have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for safety and effectiveness.

Many of these sites operate under the guise of being a legal, safe, and often cheaper alternative to purchasing a prescription from a retail or mail-order pharmacy. But in reality, they often sell drugs that contain the wrong active ingredient, the wrong amount of the active ingredient, no active ingredient at all, harmful ingredients, or even poisons. As an increasing number of older adults are being introduced to the Internet, it is important that they are educated on the risks associated with purchasing their prescriptions online.

To fill this knowledge gap, the National Consumers League is pleased to be collaborating with the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies and the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies to not only educate seniors and their caregivers about online pharmacies, but also empower them to make safe and informed decisions when shopping for prescription drugs online. Counterfeit drugs have long been an area of great concern for NCL, and we are enthusiastic about contributing to this joint effort to keep older Americans safe online.

To stay safe, seniors and their caregivers should avoid websites that:

  1. Do not require a valid prescription. 
  2. Allow you to buy prescription medications by simply completing an online questionnaire. 
  3. Offer drastically discounted prices.
  4. Do not have a licensed pharmacist available for consultation.
  5. Do not display a physical street address.
  6. Offer to ship prescriptions from other countries to the U.S.
  7. Are not verified by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP).

Consumers are encouraged to buy from sites ending in .pharmacy, which are verified by NABP. In addition, online pharmacies that display the VIPPS (Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites) seal have successfully undergone NABP’s rigorous screening process. 

For more information about illegal online pharmacies and counterfeit medicines, consumers should visit www.XtheRisk.com. For additional information on health fraud and tips on how to protect yourself from the dangers of counterfeit drugs, visit Fraud.org.