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Buying Meds Online: Purdue Research Says You May Want to Research First

You could be getting floor wax, chalk, or maybe nothing at all, if you buy online.

STATE WIDE--Buying medicine can be tough. It's expensive, and some medications are not covered by insurance. Over half of the 500 Hoosiers recently surveyed, said they would consider buying prescription medicine online. But, very few people said they had discussed it with their doctor.

Getting bad medicine

"They place themselves at high risk of getting adulterated or bad medicine," said John Hertig, associate director for Purdue University’s Center for Medication Safety Advancement. "That bad medicine may have no active ingredients, or worse yet, contain things that we really don't want to ingest."

Hertig is also associated with the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies, which is responsible for the survey.

He said there are good online pharmacies, but they will usually be online versions of trusted brick and mortar stores, like

What you may be getting

Hertig said that if you buy online, from a non-trusted source, you may be getting stuff in your pills that you would never otherwise put in your mouth.

"Floor wax, mercury, chalk, road tar and even anti-freeze, which is used as a sweetener, can be found in those counterfeit medicines online," said Hertig.

“Since Purdue University’s research found that even licensed pharmacists typically cannot differentiate legitimate from illegal online pharmacies just by looking at a website, the average consumer is all the more susceptible to falling prey to illegal pharmacy websites that offer ‘too good to be true’ prices, claims of selling ’genuine Canadian medicines’, and other tactics that put patients at risk,” said Hertig.

Why regulations matter

Hertig said some of the reasons you may go online to get your meds might be because it's cheaper or easier to get. But, he said you should have a conversation with your health care provider about getting those medicines in a cost-effective and safe way.

He said that in America, the FDA has strict regulations for how medicine should be handled. You know that what you're getting is what you're asking for with your prescription. In other countries, it's not so strictly regulated.

"Storage of medicine is so important and we have a really good supply chain here in the United States, and if you go online, rarely will that medication come from the United States. It'll come from India or China, or anywhere in between."

Canadian meds

Hertig said he believes it's important that Congress does not make it legal to import medicine from Canadian sources for the same reason.

You can visit to check out the websites where you may considering buying your meds, to see if they are safe.

PHOTO: Thinkstock

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