BeSafeRx: Know Your Online Pharmacy

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The FDA’s BeSafeRx initiative is a national campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of buying prescription medicines from fake online pharmacies. This campaign provides the resources to help consumers know the risks and signs of using fake online pharmacies, as well as the resources to locate safe, state-licensed online pharmacies.

Know the Risks

Buying from fake online pharmacies can be dangerous, or even deadly. Before you order medicine online, it is important to know the risks of buying from fake online pharmacies.

You could receive counterfeit or substandard drugs.

The drugs you receive may look real, but they could be counterfeit, contaminated, expired or otherwise unsafe. If you receive counterfeit or substandard medicines, they could keep you from getting better, make you sick or worse

Slight differences in your medicine can make a big difference.

Medicine that is approved for use in the United States has been reviewed for safety and effectiveness by the FDA. Medicine that may be approved in other countries or produced by unknown sources may have slight variations or different ingredients that could cause you to get sicker, develop a resistance to your medicine or cause new side effects. If you take more than one medication, these differences could also affect the way other medicines work or cause harmful interactions.

You could put your personal and financial information at risk.

Most fake online pharmacies lack adequate safeguards to protect personal and financial information, and some intentionally misuse the information you provide. These sites may infect your computer with viruses or sell your personal information to other rogue websites and Internet scams. If you buy medicine from a fake online pharmacy, you also risk being harassed by repeated emails and phone calls or being charged for products you never ordered or received.

Know the Signs

WARNING! Beware of online pharmacies that:

  • Allow you to buy drugs without a prescription from your doctor.
  • Offer deep discounts or cheap prices that seem too good to be true.
  • Send spam or unsolicited email offering cheap drugs.
  • Are located outside of the United States.
  • Are not licensed in the United States.  
  • These are signs of a fake online pharmacy.

Tips for identifying safe online pharmacies:

  • Always require a doctor’s prescription.
  • Provide a physical address and telephone number in the United States.
  • Offer a pharmacist to answer your questions.
  • Have a license with your state board of pharmacy.
  • If you cannot confirm that an online pharmacy is licensed in the United States, you should not use that online pharmacy.
  • These are signs of a safe, legal online pharmacy.

Know Your Online Pharmacy

Fake online pharmacies can manipulate their websites to appear legitimate, so checking the pharmacy’s license through your state board of pharmacy (or equivalent state agency) is an important step to know whether you are using a safe and legal online pharmacy.

Choose your state from the list on this page to go to your state board of pharmacy’s license database. The links to databases on that page are maintained by your state agency.

If you cannot confirm that an online pharmacy is licensed in the United States, you should not use that online pharmacy.

Once you have identified a state-licensed online pharmacy, also make sure the pharmacy:

  1. Requires a valid prescription from your doctor;
  2. Provides a physical address and telephone number in the United States; and
  3. Has a licensed pharmacist to answer your questions.

Source: FDA