Buying Pharmaceuticals Online
Is buying prescription medications online a good idea? Medical researchers at the University of Pennsylvania searched the Internet to find out.
Getting a prescription filled online cost, on average, 10 percent more than in Philadelphia pharmacies, even before adding the cost of shipping, which averaged $18.
All the U.S. websites found, and 31 percent of foreign sites, did require a prescription to buy prescription medications. If you don't have a prescription, many sites offer online physician consultations, which were about 15 percent more expensive than a visit to a general practitioner in Philadelphia.
Online consultations offer privacy and convenience, but researchers were otherwise unimpressed: No Internet physician would reveal his medical qualifications or specific geographic location.
Consumers could easily lie about their medical condition, and potential adverse drug interactions might be missed.
Medications purchased from foreign sites might also be risky, warn researchers, as they might not meet U.S. manufacturing standards. Some foreign sites also sell drugs that are not approved by the FDA.
By far the most widely available medication online is Viagra (sildenafil), followed by Propecia (finasteride). Other prescription medications for sale include Claritin (loratadine), Celebrex (celecoxib), Valtrex (valacyclovir), Zyban (bupropion), Xenical (orlistat), anabolic steroids and birth control pills.
Source: Annals of Internal Medicine, 1999; 131,11, 830-833
This appeared in ACE FitnessMatters, ACE's official magazine.
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