Have you ever heard about something called an “online pharmacy”? It’s a pretty straightforward concept — it’s a business run entirely online, and it allows people to buy prescription drugs online and have the drugs sent right to their doorstep. If it sounds a little sketchy to you, your head is in the right place. Because as simple as these pharmacies seem, they actually present quite a few dangers to the health and wellbeing of their customers.
Because the FDA has such a hard time regulating these online pharmacies, it’s pretty to find that they sell unapproved drugs that aren’t legally supposed to be sold in the U.S., and they also tend to send out medications with the incorrect ingredients or with the wrong amount of the active ingredient. Even if these incorrect prescriptions are sent out by mistake (which is pretty unlikely), customers still have no way of knowing that they’re taking the wrong medication — until something serious happens, of course.
Unfortunately, either people aren’t aware that online pharmacies are so dangerous, or they’re simply willing to take the risks (either for financial reasons or for convenience). In fact, the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest has recently estimated that about $75 billion worth of counterfeit drugs — like the ones provided by online pharmacies — are sold every year. Scare tactics clearly don’t work well, and it seems like no amount of government laws and regulations can ameliorate the situation either.
So what can you do to make the prescription drug industry safer?
If you’re a consumer, the easiest thing to do is to stay away from these pharmacies and to encourage others to do the same.
If you run a pharmacy yourself, think about making some technology upgrades and product changes so that your customers will actually enjoy filling their prescriptions at your store. Something as simple as replacing an old cash register with a new retail pharmacy POS system can make a huge difference: transactions will be faster, creating customer loyalty programs will be easier, and pharmacy POS systems that automatically track sales trends will help you figure out which products your customers really want.
It may be difficult, if not impossible, to track down every online pharmacy and shut it down. But by working together, it may be possible to push these sketchy companies right out of business. Helpful links. Reference links.