Online RX Drug Caution

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Molly Clevenger takes prescription medicines every day. She's considered buying from websites outside the U-S.

Molly says, "When push came to shove I just really thought - where is this coming from?"

But a Consumer Reports National Research Center survey found that in the past year, nearly three million people have ordered a prescription drug from an online pharmacy outside the U-S. What's wrong with that?

Consumer Reports Medical Adviser, Dr. John Santa says, "Any website located outside the U.S. does not fall under the food and drug administration's oversight. The reality is - you cannot be certain of what you're getting when you buy from these sites."

And it's not just websites outside the U-S. In a review of more than 83-hundred online pharmacies, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, or N-A-B-P, found a majority don't require a valid prescription. And nearly half sell drugs that are not approved by the F-D-A.

In all, the N-A-B-P found only a fraction of the online pharmacies reviewed - just over three percent - appear to be legitimate.

Molly Clevenger didn't want to take any chances.

She says, "Bottom line: I just wasn't sure that the pill I took out of the bottle was gonna be the right stuff."

But Consumer Reports says there are ways to shop safely online.

Stick with pharmacies you know, like Walmart, C-V-S, or Target.

And always look for this VIPPS symbol. It means the pharmacy is located in the U-S, dispenses only FDA-approved medication, and requires a prescription from your doctor.

As for saving money, almost every big-box and chain-store pharmacy offers a discount generic-drug program. You can find a month's supply of certain popular medications for as little as $4.

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