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Perhaps you have seen stories or received spam e-mail messages from on-line pharmacies offering instant access to prescription drugs at low cost. You want a percocet or vicodin but your family doctor did not prescribe it for you? No worries. Just log onto your spam-friendly Internet pharmacy, fill out a brief questionnaire, pay for your medication with a credit card and in no time, you will receive your narcotics. Recently, according to a story on MSNBC, on-line pharmacies are making millions selling controlled substances.

Without Internet pharmacies, you must visit your doctor in order to receive a prescription for medication. Your doctor issues the prescription to be filled at the pharmacy. At the pharmacy, you can verify the authenticity, purity and dosage. Your pharmacist must also counsel you on the use, dosage, side effects and any other important details of the medication before you take it for the first time. You also have the opportunity to ask questions and you, your doctor and your pharmacist act together as a team to administer your medication safely.

If you order medication on-line, you lose the effectiveness of medication counseling, and in-person consultation with your physician and team approach to medication safety. You lose the opportunity to confirm the dosage and purity of the medication. In short, the safety systems in place to prescribe and administer medication safely are for the most part lost with fly-by-night Internet pharmacies. As MSNBC reports,

The Drug Enforcement Administration, which reported the additional parcel delivery trucks in southeastern Kentucky, says about 95 percent of products sold by online pharmacies are controlled substances. By comparison, controlled substances amount to roughly 11 percent of the dosages dispensed by legitimate pharmacies.

These details suggest that fly-by-night Internet pharmacies are dispensing controlled substances at an alarming rate and the alarming implication suggests that some of these apparent business cover up illicit drug trade. So long as on-line pharmacies dispense medication in a safe and effective manner and supplement regular in-person physician and pharmacist counseling requirements, on-line pharmacies serve a useful purpose. However, based on the DEA statistics, it appears that several rogue pharmacies may be using the Internet to traffic and sell narcotics while attempting to use a designation as a pharmacy to justify illegal drug trafficking.

What do you think about on-line pharmacies? Do they provide a useful service? Or are a large number of them simply a tool to sell illegal substances? If you have had a bad experience with an on-line pharmacy, share your story. Also, you may consider filing a consumer complaint with the Arizona State Board of Pharmacy who will conduct an investigation to determine compliance with Arizona law.

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