Buying prescriptions online could be dangerous

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September 22, 2006

Buying cheap could cost you in the end.

Eleven arrests made in Georgia last week have raised questions about the practice of buying prescription drugs online. A company stands accused of selling phony medication to hundreds of patients.

So what is the safest way to order your medicine?

The safest way could be the old fashioned way: visiting your local pharmacy. By doing so, experts say you could be avoiding a huge headache.

Walter Boney and Shirley Troup are regulars at Park's in North Augusta.

"First off it's the service," Shirley says. "The people here are wonderful."

The two are like many customers we found, choosing in person pick-ups over ordering online.

MCG pharmacy manager Scott Savage tells News 12, "They're out there seeking what is the cheapest medication they can buy, and what goes along with that are a lot of different pitfalls in terms of is it the right medication?"

Case in point: a liquid drug called Epogen.

Scott says one online company claimed they sold it...but a federal investigation found it was simply saline.

A money-making scheme at the expense of cancer patients.

That's why Scott strongly recommends building relationships with a pharmacist you know you can trust.

"You know, if I have questions I can get an answer immediately and get a good answer and get the kind of service that I want to get, that I don't think I'd get online," Shirley says.

"One of the main things that we are taught and we try to teach patients in general is to have a consistent pharmacist that is also familiar with the medications that you're on," Scott says.

A clear advantage that's also an easy pill to swallow: one-on-one attention versus buying blind online.

Should you choose to buy online, you need to know your medication, including side effects, size, weight, and color.

Also make sure the internet company is certified. For instance, the majority of US distributors are certified by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacists.

You do not want to take any chances with your medication, so if there is any doubt as to whether it's real, don't take it.