Online RX drug caution

November 4, 2011 7:58:06 PM PDT
There are plenty of monthly bills that worry people these days. But a survey from Consumer Reports says that not being able to pay for medical care, including prescription drugs, is at the top of the list. If you're considering shopping online for drugs from other countries, like nearly 3 million people have in the past year, Consumer Reports says don't do it!

Any website located outside the U.S. does not fall under the Food and Drug Administration's oversight. You cannot be certain of what you're getting. And it's not just websites outside the U.S. In a review of more than 8,300 online pharmacies, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) found that a majority don't require a valid prescription. And nearly half sell drugs that are not approved by the FDA.

In all, the NABP found only a fraction, just over 3 percent of the online pharmacies reviewed, appear to be legitimate.

But Consumer Reports says that there are ways to shop safely online. Stick with pharmacies you know, like Walmart, CVS, and Target. And always look for the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (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 many popular medications for as little as $4.