Buying Prescription Drugs On-line May Not Be Good Idea - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

11/15/04

Buying Prescription Drugs On-line May Not Be Good Idea

We all look for a good deal, especially with the skyrocketing cost of prescription medicine.

However, if you think surfing the Internet for cheap drugs is a bargain, here's some information that may make you think twice.

If you have a computer, you probably get ads everyday touting drugs at cheap prices, without a doctor's prescription, and overnight delivery.

However, do those ads really deliver on their promises?

How do you know what you're getting?

Overnight delivery, no doctor's prescription, 80 to 90 percent savings on drugs like valium, xanax and lorotab.

That's the sales pitch from countless drug companies on the Internet.

David Lawrence/Pharmacist:

"It's contrary to everything that ethical medicine and ethical pharmacy is about," says pharmacist David Lawrence.

"These people are in the business of making' money and that's what they're going do. If they can throw a cheaper product at you, that's what they're going do," says Biloxi police officer John Miller.

So just how cheap a deal can you really get?

We asked Biloxi Police computer specialist Donnie Dobbs to go on-line and order drugs for us from the dozens of ads on my computer.

Right off, we found it's not so easy or quick to get to a legitimate site.

"Everyone of 'them that's coming' up so far is bogus," says Dobs.

45 minutes later, bingo, Dobbs hit pay dirt.

Using my credit card he placed the order.

"We're going attempt to purchase 5 milligram dosage of 30 tablets of Diazepam or generic Valium for 154 dollars. The patient information is going be Lieutenant. Miller," says Dobbs.

Dobbs answered a short series of questions about John Miller's health, like how long have you been smoking? And the reason he wants the drugs.

However, at no time was there ever a doctor's prescription required.

So, did we do something illegal?

"I believe so. I mean we never talked to a physician. We answered a few questions on-line and that's it and I'm not sure, I don't believe I could go to a doctor, a legitimate doctor, just walk into his office and tell him I have a lot of stress at work and he's going write me a prescription for an anti-depressant," says Miller.

The order totaled 211 dollars and 95 cents, including shipping and handling and a dispensing fee.

Miller can't believe it.

"Absolutely, just unbelievably inflated. A script of generic Valium should be about ten dollars and regular Valium, a brand name, not more than 50," says Miller.

So what happened to those big savings we thought we were getting?

Well, considering prescriptions like Zoloft, Xanax and Vicodin range from 20 dollars to more than a hundred at a drug store, we actually paid a lot more for our generic Valium.

"Our generic prices are very competitive with the prices over the Internet and the drugs that they have, a lot of times, are drugs that we can't even identify. So I can't really tell somebody yes this is a generic that's equivalent to what you're getting here or equivalent to a brand name and we have no way to verify that it's even the correct medication," says pharmacist David Lawrence.

Pharmacists say that's another red flag to watch for.

Are you getting the real thing?

"When you go on the Internet and out of state and maybe even out of country dealing on line you're dealing with someone you don't know if they're regulated if they're doing things ethical or legal or what. You're just taking a big chance," says pharmacist Larry Krohn.

"As much as 80 percent of generic Viagra and there's not any legal generic Viagra in the United States is actually a fake so all these drugs that have a high street value or a high resale value are ones they're seeing the most fake production," says Lawrence/

Cost is one thing, convenience is another.

However, the pharmacists say your health should be your main concern when ordering something you don't know anything about.

"You can get into serious trouble if you start getting the wrong thing or you think you're getting some serious medicine that you need and not getting, it can affect your health," says Krohn.

The FDA addresses buying medicine on-line on its web site .

It warns people there are dangers involved such as incorrect dosage, counterfeit or contaminated products and the agency offers consumer tips about buying health products on-line.

Biloxi police lieutenant John Miller says federal law enforcement agencies are trying to crack down on Internet drug sales.

Remember that Valium Biloxi police ordered for us.

Well, that was on October 7th and we just got it a few days ago, even though the company touted overnight delivery.

Is it the real thing?

Biloxi Police are sending it to the state crime lab and we'll let you know what they find out.

By: Marcia Hill

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