Buyer Beware: Online Prescriptions

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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:

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LOOK FOR:

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.

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