When purchased through the traditional, legitimate supply chain, medicines are one of the most highly regulated products in the world but there is virtually no oversight on the sale of prescription medicines online. Of the roughly 35,000 online pharmacy websites sellers active at any given time, more than 95% operate out of compliance with applicable laws, often selling medicines without a prescription, without a pharmacy license, and misleading consumers with counterfeit, adulterated, unapproved, and/or misbranded products. Purchasing medications from these rogue sites can have dangerous consequences, from receiving no therapeutic benefit to being harmed by toxic ingredients, but few are aware of the dangers and how to stay safe when purchasing medications online.
- Nearly 55% of Americans report they would buy medicine online, mostly driven by convenience and cost, and recent studies suggest that 35% of Americans already have.
- 7 in 10 Americans erroneously believe that if an online pharmacy website appears at or near the top of search engine results, it is likely to be legitimate, with 4 in 10 incorrectly believing that all websites offering healthcare services and/or prescription medications have FDA or state approval.
- 1 in 3 Americans have discussed locating online pharmacies with a healthcare professional, but only half report that they have talked with their provider about the potential risks.
Healthcare providers play a critical role in educating patients about their prescriptions but not all talk to their patients about where they get their medicines and how to stay safe if purchasing online. Learn more below on how to identify the warning signs of rogue online pharmacies and how to identify safe, legitimate online pharmacies.