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FDA warns against using online pharmacies

October 2, 2012

Approximately 30 percent of all prescribed medications are consumed by adults over 65, and although online pharmacies may seem like a convenient way to purchase them, new federal warnings suggest otherwise. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently launched a campaign against such dispensaries, saying many of them are fraudulent and could derail healthy senior living, The Associated Press reports.

The initiative, known as BeSafeRx, was launched partly because there is growing evidence that more people are turning to the internet to fill prescriptions. However, according to the FDA, some of the pills sold online may be past their expiration date, have incorrect active ingredients or could even be tainted.

"Our goal is to increase awareness not to scare people away from online pharmacies," FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg told the AP. "We want them to use appropriate pharmacies."

There are significant risks associated with online pharmacies. A recent survey conducted by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy found that many of them don't adhere to state and federal laws, which means they are likely located outside of the United States. However, despite this fact about one in four online shoppers said they go online, according to an FDA poll.

The initiative underscores the importance of medication management as part of healthy aging. A recent analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approximately 100,000 older adults get hospitalized due to adverse drug reactions every year. Perhaps most interesting was that many of them, about two-thirds, were caused by four of the most common drugs used by seniors, according to USA Today.