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Protect Consumers from Fraudulent Online Pharmacies

Protect Consumers from Fraudulent Online Pharmacies

On September 28, 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it is launching a campaign to increase public awareness about fake online pharmacies.  The FDA reports that buying prescriptions from fake online pharmacies can endanger a person’s health and result in identity fraud as well. 

According to the FDA, “Nearly 1 in 4 Internet consumers has purchased prescription medicine online.”  More important, about 30 percent of the people in the survey stated that they lack confidence in making such purchases online. 

There is reason for concern as well.  The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy conclude that less than 3 percent of all online pharmacies adhere to all state and federal laws.  In order to appear professional, many of the fraudulent pharmacies online will use strong and expensive marketing techniques.  The FDA reports that many of the drugs sold from fake online pharmacies contain the wrong ingredients, too little or too much of the right ingredient, or even no active ingredients as well—all of which directly endanger the consumer. 

Margaret Hamburg, M.D., the FDA Commissioner, states: “Fraudulent and illegal online pharmacies often offer deeply discounted products.  If the low prices seem too good to be true, they probably are.  FDA’s BeSafeRx campaign is designed to help patients learn how to avoid these risks.”  For more information on the BeSafeRx campaign, visit the following link: www.FDA.gov/BeSafeRx. 

Before buying a prescription online, consumers are encouraged to look for the following:

· Does the website need a valid prescription from the health care provider to set up the order?

· Is the website operated from within the United States?

· Does the website have a licensed pharmacist available to answer questions?

· Is the website licensed by the state board of pharmacy?

Source: Food and Drug Administration



What is Tequin?
Tequin, or its generic name Gatifloxacin, is an antibiotic developed developed by Kyorin Pharmaceutical Company in Japan and licensed in the United States by Bristol-Myers Squibb that inhibits bacterial enzymes for the treatment of respiratory tract infections.In 2006 Bristol-Myers Squibb stopped manufacture of Tequin after the FDA issued a “black box” warning requirement on all labels associated with Tequin.
Side effects
A study published by the New England Journal of Medicine in 2006 linked Tequin to diabetes and it was recommended that the drug be issued a “black box” warning. A “black box” warning is considered to be the FDA’s most preventative measure for warning physicians and patients about the use of a product. The warning consists of a black box design on the label of the product that indicates that the drug has a significant risk of serious or even life-threatening conditions.
Side effects of Tequin use include dizziness, hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, erratic heartbeat, liver injury, nausea and fainting. The major side effect of Tequin is diabetes and diabetes related conditions such as diabetic ketoacidosis and diabetic coma.
Government Regulations
In 2006 the FDA issued a “black box” warning on all oral forms of Tequin. Since the FDA put in the regulation the product has been taken off the market and throughout the world companies have begun to lift their forms of Gatifloxacin from their shelves.

Tequin litigation has already been seen in the courts of Canada, but not in the United States. In Canadian class action suit Bristol-Myers Squibb settled with plaintiffs for $5 million for failure to warn against conditions that include blood sugar disorders. One man in the United States is suing Bristol-Myers Squibb for personal injury after he took 3 doses of Tequin and went into a diabetic coma due to an extreme case of hypoglycemia that he blames on the drug.

Use Caution when Buying Decorative Contact Lenses

Use Caution when Buying Decorative Contact Lenses

Decorative contact lenses are a popular item, especially when holidays like Halloween are just around the corner.  Most people think these items are sold over the counter legally, but all contacts are controlled by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  

Vendors that advertise these decorative contact lenses as cosmetic items or sell them without requiring a prescription are in direct violation of the law.  The law is in place to regulate these items, yes, but the laws are in place to protect the consumer as well.  

Many illegal decorative contact lenses come in one size.  Prescription contact lenses are for your specific eye size.  If you use the wrong sized contact lenses—as people often do with decorative lenses—you can cause serious eye damage like:

-scratches to your cornea
-ulcers in the cornea
-pink eye
-weak vision and even blindness

Bernard Lepri, an optometrist with the FDA, state, “The problem isn’t with the decorative contacts themselves.  It’s the way people use them improperly—without a valid prescription, without the involvement of a qualified eye care professional, or without appropriate follow-up care.”

The FDA states that consumers should never buy decorative contact lenses from street vendors, beauty stores or boutiques, Halloween stores, beach shops, or similar stores.  You shouldn’t buy the lenses off the internet unless the website requires a prescription.  Instead, get a prescription from an eye doctor and go to a seller that requires a prescription.  If you notice any problems with your eyes, contact your eye doctor right away.  

The FDA points to the story of Laura Butler as a warning to consumers who buy their contact lenses from illegal distributors.  Butler bought a pair of decorative lenses from a souvenir shop for $30 while on vacation and ended up paying $2,000 in medical bills.  She soon experienced a huge amount of pain after using the contact lenses, and she was diagnosed with corneal abrasion.  She could have lost her eye, and she couldn’t drive for 8 weeks because of her vision.  

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration