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Date Posted: 22:01:21 09/30/03 Tue
Author: Black Jack
Subject: The Risks Of Buying Drugs Online
In reply to: Observer 's message, "In the media" on 12:46:08 08/04/03 Mon

The Risks Of Buying Drugs Online
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Here is the story:
Buying Drugs Online

Skyrocketing drug costs are sending a growing number of people to pharmacies in Canada and Mexico to search for cheaper drugs. What many people are finding is fake.

The World Health Organization estimates almost one in 10 drugs on the world market is counterfeit -- 40 to 50 percent in Latin and African countries.

One UT drug researcher says buyer beware.

"It will look just like the real thing. It will be packaged just like the real thing, and consumers won't be able to tell it," UT drug researcher Dr. Marv Shepherd said, "And sometimes you may not know for six months to a year that the drug was a counterfeit."

Right now, more than 1,000 Internet pharmacy sites offer you the chance to buy drugs at reduced rates without ever leaving your home.

"If you've got a credit card number, you can get just about anything you want," Shepherd said.

A lot of people are taking them up on the offer.

"I do think the lower cost is probably driving most of it," Shepherd said, "I think what's driving some other people is the easy access. 'I can get this drug without going to the doctor.' It's a savior to some people on the cost, on saving money, but I always go, 'You better beware.'"

Because consumers are not the only ones in it for the money. The World Health Organization says fake drugs are a multi-billion dollar business for counterfeiters.

KXAN.com In-depth
It has been estimated by the WHO that counterfeit drugs comprise 8 percent of the world market.
For some countries (African, Latin), counterfeits comprise 40 to 50 percent of the market.
Estimated to be $20 to $30 billion market.
Sources of Counterfeit Drugs:

India -- estimated at 15 to 20% drugs are fake
Brazil (30 to 40%)
Southeast Asia Countries (40 to 60%)
Source: Dr. Marv Shepherd, Director for Pharmacoeconomic Studies, University of Texas

"It's greed running this market. These people are ruthless. They are ruthless. They take a $10 vial, put a different label on it sell it for a $500 vial," Shepherd said.

Leaving you with a bargain that could cost you your health or your life.

"Some could be rogue or fake medications, and that's the risk you're playing with when you buy pharmaceuticals internationally," Shepherd said, "Pharmaceuticals are not as safe as one likes to think of them to be."

Shepherd says drugs for cancer treatment, HIV treatments, antidepressants and antibiotics are some of the biggest sellers on the international market.

He says your best bet for keeping safe from complications and interactions is to buy all your drugs from one pharmacist who knows your health.

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