On Nov. 30, ACP and the RCMP issued a joint press release alerting the public to a fraudulent Internet pharmacy solicitation.
The college’s first priority is to protect the public, thus we welcome such opportunities to work with law enforcement. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are also required by the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics to ensure patients receive safe, responsible, and appropriate pharmacy care.
Please immediately report any inappropriate pharmacy practice – Internet or otherwise – to the college so that we can help you maintain the profession’s good reputation and the public’s health and trust.
November 30, 2011
Fraudulent Internet Pharmacy
The RCMP, along with the Alberta College of Pharmacists, wish to advise the public of a fraudulent internet pharmacy solicitation site that may be received in peoples’ email accounts.
The following email link is distributed by personal computers having been compromised and access to personal email addresses accounts obtained. The message creates the impression that the link has been sent from a “friend” or “contact.” The extent of the distribution or the number of computers comprised is unknown; however, the subject of the breach is such that could impact public safety, in that it promotes an internet pharmaceutical site.
The public should take precautions when dealing with any internet pharmaceutical site, as many of these sites are not legitimate. Some of these sites create the impression that they are legitimate entities. Significant health risks are imposed if the consumer is not aware of what to look for and purchases drugs from these sites.
- Some sites sell drugs that are not approved in Canada due to safety concerns.
- Prescription drugs should not be used without having been examined by a health care professional, and having been issued a prescription for that condition.
- Consumers have no way of knowing where these companies are located, many of which are off shore, and what controls exist with regards to the manufacturing of these products.
- There is no way of knowing whether you are obtaining counterfeit drugs.
- The consumer does not know the type of ingredients used, such as whether there are any “active” ingredients, or just fillers, the appropriate quantity or dosage, or other additives that may have been included.
- These factors may exacerbate pre-existing conditions, create false hope, or be ineffective.
- Providing credit card information poses financial risks.
- Goods may be stopped at the border by Canadian authorities.
- Contact the College of Pharmacists within the province the company is claiming to be licenced and verify the legitimacy of the Internet Pharmacy. Do not rely on any telephone number or claims made on the internet pharmaceutical site.
- Determine whether a street address is listed for the company and then verify the location via Google Maps or Street View to confirm the location exists and is the same building being depicted on the site.
- Confirm their policy with respect to dealing with prescriptions, of if they offer prescription drugs without a prescription.
- Examine whether they are trying to conduct an on-line assessment via questionnaire, rather than actually having been examined by a doctor.
- Be suspicious if the site “claims a miracle cure.”
- Sells a product that does not have a D.I.N. (Drug Identification Number) issued by Health Canada.
If you wish further information, or have complaints or concerns about therapeutic drug products being sold or purchased on line, please call Health Canada’s toll-free hotline at 1-800-267-9675.
Visit the following Health Canada Website at: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/med/internet-eng.php.
More ACP articles on Internet/mail order pharmacy
Mail order pharmacy and the delivery of drugs across provincial borders – Dec. 2007 acpnews.
Internet pharmacy service guidelines – Spring 2009 acpnews
Mail Order Pharmacy definitions and requirements – Summer 2009 acpnews