A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigation into drugs posted to the US from abroad shows that consumers may be buying medicines online to avoid the need for a prescription.
The FDA study also shows people are continuing to spend money unnecessarily on potentially risky drugs purchased over the internet.
The probe found 88% of the 2,069 drug packages examined appeared to be prescription medicines available in the US.
Of the remaining products, some were dietary supplements, some were foreign products with labelling that was illegible, and some were medications not available in America.
And more than half (53%) of the drugs sampled have FDA-approved generic versions, which could have been bought cheaper in the country without the need to import them.
The regulator is now urging consumers to be wary of unregulated drug websites, because many of their products may not use the correct ingredients and could contain toxic substances.
Dr Randall Lutter, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for policy, said: “The data lead us to believe that many people are buying drugs online not to save money but to bypass the need for a prescription from their doctor since these websites typically do not require the purchaser to have a prescription.
“In essence, they seem to be getting and using prescription drugs without a prescription, an intrinsically risky practice.”
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