Buying drugs online has never been quicker, easier — or riskier. With consumers eager for cheap ways to self-medicate — particularly with lifestyle drugs like Ambien, Xanax, and Botox — counterfeiters do brisk business with fakes void of active ingredients or full of chemical replacements (as seen in a recent case with the diet drug Alli). Ilisa Bernstein, director of pharmacy affairs at the FDA's Office of Policy, shares tips to avoid getting bilked, or worse:
1. An address and a help line on pharmacy sites.
2. A prescription request, just like the corner drugstore.
3. A legit U.S. license (check nabp.net).
4. VIPPS approval (the site should be on nabp.net/vipps/consumer/listall.asp).
ASK: Where the drug came from, if you're at a spa or nonmedical office; the source should meet the same criteria.
COMPARE: The packaging, size, and color of the product to one at your doctor's office, and make sure it matches.