Thinking of Buying Drugs Online? One Word: Don't!

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Counterfeit DrugsA new investigative report reveals that approximately 94 percent of prescription drugs purchased via the Internet are less than what they seem. Or more. Or lacking in any active ingredient. Or, worst of all, toxic.

So why do it?

An organization based in France, the Institute for Research Against Counterfeit Medicines (IRACRM), aims to educate the public and the authorities on the scourge of counterfeit drugs. Their research shows that of 331,430 websites they monitor, over 94 percent a frightening number are selling pharmaceuticals illegally. They say that "The 'Wild West' nature of online drug selling is what inspired IRACM to launch their It s All Fake! campaign."

The institute has educated thousands of people and raised awareness about the dangers of counterfeit drugs. Their new campaign aims to educate patients that anyone with access to the Internet can be exposed to counterfeit drugs via fake online pharmacies.

"The counterfeiting of medicines is an increasingly serious phenomenon with terrible consequences on public health care and public order," said Bernard Leroy, IRACRM's director. "It enriches organized crime and threatens the future of public health care and democracy. We have to take action aimed at optimizing the international treaties and agreements."

The main selling points for such drugs include erectile dysfunction, diet/weight loss aids, and building muscles.

While IRACRM's focus is on Europe, we here in America are equally at risk of substandard, impotent or toxic medicines purchased online. Our 2006 publication, "Counterfeit Medications: Coming to a Pharmacy Near You," was updated in 2009. The problem did not improve over those years.

Our focus was on all fake medicines, not merely Internet sources, but the overall message is the same: why take such a risk? Do not buy drugs online, period.