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Ordering drugs online can be risky

Ordering drugs online can be risky

The government is getting serious about cracking down on shady Internet pharmacies that sell prescription drugs and controlled substances to people without a prescription. One way to do that is to go after the companies that ship the drugs.

Agents from the Office of Criminal Investigations at the Food and Drug Administration’s worked with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to put together a case against FedEx for delivering drugs for more than a decade from two organizations known to run illegal drug operations. On July 17, 2014, a federal grand jury in San Francisco indicted FedEx Corporation with two counts of conspiracy to traffic in controlled substances and misbranded prescription drugs.

Read more about prescription and over-the-counter drugs.  

“The advent of Internet pharmacies allowed the cheap and easy distribution of massive amounts of illegal prescription drugs to every corner of the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag. The indictment is a way of holding corporations “that knowingly enable illegal activity responsible for their role in aiding criminal behavior,” Haag said.

It’s not the first time the government has gone after the messenger. In March, United Parcel Service agreed to give up $40 million in payments from illicit pharmacies rather than face charges. As a condition of the agreement, UPS also took steps to ensure that the company didn’t do business with illegal internet pharmacies in the future.

These events serve as an important reminder that it’s a bad idea to order drugs through unreliable pharmacy websites. Many of these sites operate outside of the U.S. and without oversight from the FDA, so you can never be sure of what you’re getting. While some Americans may feel that ordering drugs from Canadian pharmacies is safe, many of these sites are also fake storefronts selling cheap knock offs. See our previous coverage for advice on how to safely order medications online

—Teresa Carr

Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers or sponsors on this website. Copyright © 2006-2014 Consumers Union of U.S.

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