Is It Safe to Buy Medication Over the Internet?

07 April, 2021
Although in the United States it's illegal to buy medication over the internet, this type of fraud does exist. We must be cautious and careful on the Internet when it comes to pharmaceuticals.

Many drug treatments are subject to prescription. Therefore, it’s illegal and dangerous to buy these medications over the internet. Most of the drugs that are available on the internet are fake and can be truly dangerous to your health.

Health authorities have conducted studies confirming this claim. Estimated deaths from counterfeit drugs range from tens of thousands to over 200,000 people. Official surveys state that between 50 and 90% of drugs available over the internet are counterfeit.

It’s a fact that new technologies and the internet make life easier for people in general. This is especially true for people with disabilities. The ease of the internet doesn’t just make it possible to have easier and simpler access to information. It also allows us to purchase a wider range of products without even having to leave our homes.

However, the internet’s a double-edged sword that, if we’re not careful, can be very dangerous. For example, when we try to buy a drug online for which there is no legal control of sales and manufacturing quality.

This facilitates the fact that many of these products are counterfeit or damaged, meaning fraud’s taking place. And, although the figures aren’t completely clear, this online business sells health products for millions of dollars worldwide.

Reasons for buying drugs over the Internet

There’s legislation in the United States in this regard and the sale of prescription drugs over the internet is totally illegal. However, there are many other countries where regulation is lacking and people can buy medications online.

The reasons for buying medicine over the internet include, of course, the ease with which you can obtain such products without embarrassment. Many people are embarrassed to have to ask for certain drugs in pharmacies, where others will hear personal questions. For this reason, they prefer to make their purchases from the privacy of their computer or smartphone.

However, the reasons that push people to make this type of purchase vary. For example, some people fall for the idea of miracle products that they see in advertisements. The classic fraud is drugs that guarantee almost immediate weight loss.

The problem is that these products use ingredients that wouldn’t pass quality and public health controls. Also, their side effects could be very serious.

Another example of the reasons why people purchase medication over the internet is the possibility of buying drugs that aren’t allowed in their country. The logical thing, in these cases, would be to assume that if a drug isn’t available on the market, it’s because it doesn’t pass the relevant quality controls for it to be sold in pharmacies.

A woman conducting a search on google.
Selling drugs over the Internet is a million dollar business and has few regulations.

Find out: What Are Drug Excipients?

The dangers of buying medication over the Internet

As we’ve discussed throughout the article, there are many dangers to buying drugs over the internet. Also, a large majority of them are fake and can even lead to the death of the consumer in the worst of cases.

Therefore, the risks and dangers of buying drugs over the internet can range from a simple financial scam to serious adverse reactions. Among these dangers, we can mention the following:

  • The products may be expired and may not have passed the relevant quality controls.
  • They may be counterfeits of the medicines that we really want to buy.
  • The medicines that are available on the internet surely don’t have a quality guarantee. What’s more, their ingredients or components could be illegal or even toxic substances.
  • They don’t have labels or indications for use.
  • The pages may not respect the confidential data of consumers.
  • Without the supervision of a doctor, we may end up taking drugs that interact with other drugs.
  • The transport of these medicines may not be adequate and the products may arrive in poor condition.
A man selling medication over the internet.
There are people who prefer to buy drugs online to avoid embarrassment at the store.

Find out: What Are the Most Dangerous Drugs in the World?

Conclusion

With the increase in internet connections and greater digital literacy, more and better access to information has been achieved for the general public. A great number of communication barriers have been overcome.

However, there’s also the possibility that the more people access the internet, the greater the risk of being scammed. This’s why it’s essential to be very careful and to increase control over the purchase of medication over the internet.

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  • De Souza, J. F. R., Marinho, C. L. C., & Guilam, M. C. R. (2008). Consumo de medicamentos e internet: Análise crítica de uma comunidade virtual. Revista Da Associacao Medica Brasileira. https://doi.org/10.1590/S0104-42302008000300015
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