How many online pharmacies are there in the world?

Tuesday, 19/12/2023 | 23:31 UTC-5

According to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, for the past 10 years, industry experts have consistently estimated that, at any given time, there are between 30,000 and 40,000 active illegal online pharmacies.

How many online pharmacies are there in the world

Update in January 2024... 

Today, we are joined by Commander Lysette Deshields, an FDA officer in the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. CDR Deshields is a Regulatory Officer in the Supply Chain Security Branch in the Office of Drug Security, Integrity and Response, Office of Compliance within the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. She will be discussing FDA’s BeSafeRx campaign, a national initiative to educate consumers and health care professionals about the potential dangers of buying medicine from unsafe online pharmacies, along with identifying safe online pharmacies so that consumers can make more informed decisions when purchasing prescription medicine online, and tools that healthcare professionals can use to guide patients.

Welcome, CDR Deshields, and thank you for speaking with us today!

CDR Deshields: My pleasure.

Dr. Roach: CDR Deshields, the internet provides us with instant access to information and services, which can be really helpful for a lot of our day-to-day needs. Like any endeavor online, it can be difficult to tell a reputable site from one you should avoid. Considering that people are choosing to sometimes buy their medicines online for a variety of reasons, including convenience, privacy, and cost savings, it’s confusing to know whether the products being purchased online are what they are purported to be. How do you advise consumers who are shopping online for medicines?

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CDR Deshields: You make some great points. It’s true that there are online pharmacies that operate with patients’ best interest in mind and may offer convenience, privacy, cost savings and safeguards for purchasing medicines online. However, there are many unsafe online pharmacies and websites that may put patients’ health at risk. My advice to consumers is that not all websites are the same and that before making a purchase they should follow a few steps to ensure they are getting the medication that they need.

Dr. Roach: Can you review some of the specific reasons it is important to verify a safe online pharmacy before ordering medicine?

CDR Deshields: Yes, our goal with BeSafeRx is to provide consumers and health care professionals with information about the potential dangers of buying medicine from an online pharmacy and help educate consumers about how to buy medicines safely online. There are warning signs, or red flags, to watch out for. Unsafe online pharmacies may sell medicines without requiring a prescription, putting consumers at risk. These websites may sell products that, while being passed off as authentic, may contain too much or too little of the active ingredient, contain the wrong ingredients altogether, or even contain harmful substances. This of course can lead to a number of serious and even potentially life-threatening consequences, ranging from ineffective treatment to drug interactions, side effects, and dangerous allergic reactions.

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