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US consumers still buying risky drugs on the web

The FDA has reiterated its warning to US consumers about the dangers of buying medications over the web

The FDA has reiterated its warning to US consumers about the dangers of buying medications over the web.

New data collected by the FDA show that consumers who are trying to save money on prescription drugs are taking needless risks buying prescription drugs from foreign websites, because low-cost generic alternatives are available in the US.

The finding also may be an indication that some consumers are likely buying foreign drugs this way to avoid getting a prescription from their doctor or healthcare professional.

The FDA is urging consumers to have a prescription from their doctor or other health care professional before taking prescription drugs.

Recent examinations of a sample of drugs shipped to US consumers found several drugs are associated with higher risks and are more dangerous to the consumer if used without the supervision of a doctor or health care professional.

Consumers are also at risk if the drugs are not properly labelled for safe and effective use. For example, alendronate, which is used to treat and prevent osteoporosis, should include information warning patients of significant side effects if it is not taken appropriately.

Also, imported eye drop preparations may not have been manufactured under proper conditions to ensure sterility, leaving patients susceptible to contamination that may result in serious infections. These are only a few examples demonstrating the importance of obtaining FDA-approved drugs and health care provider monitoring.

The examination of foreign mail shipments also found that about 45 per cent of the imported products already are available in the US as an FDA-approved generic drug. About half of these generic drugs are available through national pharmacy chain programmes that offer generic prescriptions at a cost of USD 4 each. The cost is usually significantly less than the cost of drugs charged by Internet sellers.

Elsewhere, the US Senate has passed a resolution designating August as "National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month" in an effort to raise awareness about the dangers of abuse of over-the-counter drugs such as cough medicines, particularly by teens, who often take the drugs to get high from the active ingredient dextromethorphan.

The resolution, which was sponsored by the Democratic Senator Joseph R Biden, Jr, includes language encouraging parents to educate themselves about the dangers of misusing medicines and to pass the information along to their children.

The Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, the trade group for manufacturers of over-the-counter medicines, issued a joint statement praising the resolution. The two groups also noted that they plan to observe the new awareness month by holding educational town hall meetings in several states during August and providing educational materials to any communities that want to plan their own events.

4th July 2007

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