Due to the rising cost of medication in America, it may be tempting to visit websites that ship low-cost drugs from other countries without a prescription. Contrary to popular belief, anyone who owns a computer or smartphone can buy counterfeit pills on the internet via e-commerce sites and social media platforms, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).1 This makes it easier for adolescents and teenagers to obtain these pills without a prescription and risk an overdose due to an unknown substance in the pill.
You cannot trust every source you find online to prepare your medication to your doctor’s specifications as many of these websites are scams and the medication may contain no or lethal ingredients. In 2021, the DEA confiscated at least 9.5 million counterfeit pills that contained illegal fentanyl and/or methamphetamine — a number that has increased by 430% since 2019.2
These counterfeit pills attempt to resemble prescription opioids, antidepressants, stimulants, or other drugs to the point where someone could mistake them for the real thing. Unsuspecting buyers of counterfeit pills have no way to know of their legitimacy or ingredients. According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, 0.07 ounces of fentanyl is enough to cause a fatal overdose. Over 42,700 overdose deaths in 2020 were attributed to fentanyl.3
It’s worth noting that counterfeits can come in many variations, so a buyer can never tell that a pill is genuine unless it is purchased from an accredited pharmacy. You should never guess the authenticity of your medication based on its looks alone.
Are you unsure if a pharmacy is accredited? Here’s some tips from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
- Take advantage of the FDA’s BeSafeRx search tool, where you can locate a state-licensed pharmacy.
- You’re in good hands if the pharmacy (online or not) has a physical location and licensed pharmacist on staff.
- Online pharmacies that do not have a U.S. address are likely to be scams.
- Legitimate pharmacies are not likely to give you a medication without a prescription if it requires one.
- NeedyMeds can help! If you are finding your prescription to be too costly and you don’t have insurance, our discount card can save you 80% on the price of your medication. The best part? It’s accepted in over 62,000 pharmacies in the United States.