Rogue online drug sellers put men’s health at risk

The Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies is proud to support Men’s Health Network in its important efforts to help combat illegal online drug sellers which seek to  exploit men’s health risks.

With more than 40,000 active rogue websites pushing counterfeit or otherwise illegitimate medicines to US consumers at any one time, consumers have to be especially vigilant when making online purchases.  Rogue online drug sellers often prey on men, offering “too good to be true” deals or selling prescription medicine without requiring a prescription as required by law. Indeed, more than 96% of online drug seller websites reviewed by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy are operating illegally, not meeting pharmacy laws and practice standards.

Yet at least 1 in 6 American adults have purchased prescription medication via the Internet without a valid prescription according to a study conducted by the Partnership at

Men are particularly at risk of falling victim to illegal, counterfeit and otherwise unsafe medicine because they are less likely to see a physician for preventive care, live shorter lives than women due to illness, and are more likely to develop serious or life-threatening conditions like cancer.  In particular, men who do not seek regular preventive care may be especially uncomfortable seeking treatment for conditions like erectile dysfunction, obesity, hair loss or depression.  Men with no or inadequate insurance may have trouble affording the cost of expensive medications to treat serious conditions like cancer and diabetes.  These men may be enticed by illegal online drug sellers who claim to offer the products that men want without a prescription and at deeply discounted prices.

Unfortunately, “medications” purchased from illegal online drug sellers are often not the real thing.  The Partnership for Safe Medicines reports that powdered concrete, chalk, antifreeze, aluminum, tin, arsenic and even boric acid have been found in “medications” sold by illegal online drug sellers.  Sadly, many men have suffered harm or died from the effects of medications purchased from fraudulent websites posing as legitimate online pharmacies:

  • In June 2011, the Department of Justice reported that an emergency room physician from Texas suffered a stroke after taking a counterfeit diet medication that was purchased online.
  • In March 2006, Craig Schmidt, a 30-year-old plastics salesman suffering from chronic back pain due to working long hours and experiencing anxiety about the impending birth of his first child, purchased Xanax (an anxiety drug) and Ultram (a painkiller) from an online drug seller without seeing or speaking to the doctors that prescribed the medications.  BusinessWeek reports that after taking the counterfeit drugs, he nearly died and has been left permanently impaired with brain damage that inhibits him from driving or even walking without stumbling.

The criminals that peddle unsafe medicines on the Internet will not go away voluntarily; the profits are too high, and the risks are too low.  It is up to us to change things. ASOP is committed to improving education and making it harder for these criminals to prey on consumers, and potentially endanger their lives with fake “pharmacy” sites. As long as patients are at risk of receiving dangerous, illegitimate products through rogue websites, we must work hard to protect them.  Everyone has a role to play—public health organizations, trade associations, health professionals, policymakers, law enforcement, industry, and patients like you.

You can be a part of the solution by protecting yourself and helping educate others:

  • Learn about the top 9 men’s health risks exploited by counterfeiters,
  • Know the signs of a legitimate safe online pharmacy.
  • And if you want to buy medicine online, be sure to check out and for licensed, legitimate online pharmacies that adhere to standards set forth by NABP.

Join ASOP on the web at and follow us on Twitter at @safeonlinerx.

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