Just as there have been past hysterias blaming the Internet for sexual predators, pornography, political polarization, celebrity obsession, obesity (go outside and play!) and every other social malady facing our nation, now it seems the media is whipping itself into a frenzy over the dangers of Internet pharmacies for prescription drug abuse.
The latest blog post I flagged on this topic, “Internet Pharmacy Websites the New Drug Dealers,” referenced a sad tale on CNN.com headlined, “My husband died from online drugs.”
Don’t get me wrong. I know that buying drugs online can be dangerous; that’s precisely why I started eDrugSearch.com — to provide a safe haven, where online and mail-order pharmacies have been pre-screened for safety.
But let’s be clear here: in the case described on CNN, and in most cases of online prescription drug abuse, the person buying the drugs is doing so without a prescription. They know this is wrong, and for this reason, the are specifically seeking out rogue online pharmacies.
The problem of teenagers illegally purchasing drugs online has gotten a lot of attention — and rightly so. It’s a very real problem. But you can’t blame the Internet for this, any more than you can blame the highway for traffic accidents. And you can’t blame legitimate pharmacies, either.
In the same way that a prescription drug abuser can find a criminal (be it a friend or a stranger on a street corner) to sell them Vicodin, they can also find a criminal online to do the same. It’s no different.
So let’s focus our media attention — and law enforcement efforts — on stopping the criminal behavior, rather than tarring all Internet pharmacies with the same broad brush.
Now, why don’t we look a little more closely at the sources of the current controversy with Internet pharmacies. We have two main problems:
Problem 1. There are a lot of rogue pharmacies out there — as you can readily see every day when you check your e-mail and your spam folder is full of solicitations to buy Viagra and Xanax. Chasing these illegal operations down has been difficult for the FDA. It’s like policing anything over the Internet — very difficult.
Problem 2. Politics is getting in the way of addressing Problem 1.
How’s that? Let me explain —
Consumer reimportation of medications from Canada is heavily favored by the U.S. public. Obviously, a licensed Canadian pharmacy is just as safe as a licensed U.S. pharmacy. But unfortunately, because of the influence of Big Pharma, the Bush Administration and the FDA have done all they can to block reimportation.
Fortunately, they gave up on the idea of confiscating consumer purchases. But what they have done instead is confuse consumers — by giving the public the impression that ordering your Lipitor from a licensed Canadian pharmacy is somehow not as safe as buying it from a licensed U.S. pharmacy.
In their rhetoric, the FDA associates these legal, long-established, perfectly safe pharmacies with the rogue operations. If you ask me, it’s an intentional deception to appease Big Pharma. But whatever the motive, it’s factually inaccurate.
It also leads the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) to list legitimate pharmacies alongside bad ones in its list of 79 online pharmacies to avoid, which it announced in a press release this week. The legit pharmacies are on the list simply because they are headquartered in Canada.
How sad that is, and what a mess for consumers.
eDrugSearch.com has stepped into the fray to try to clear up the confusion and offer a safe place for consumers. We suggest you use our list rather than the NABP’s, because — well — it’s actually rational. You know the pharmacies have been checked out. And that frees you to focus on saving money, which is why you’re shopping online in the first place.
I want to be very clear here: Buying prescription drugs online is a good thing! It’s more convenient. It’s more private. It’s less expensive because it gives you the necessary tools to comparison shop, both domestically and internationally.
As long as you’re shopping from pharmacies that you know are safe, and you’re not a criminal yourself, you’ll be fine online. More than fine.