Online Pharmacies ImageIt is often a wonder how so many of previous generations dealt with infertility. In the past there were limited treatment options, fewer medicines, and no Internet. {shudder the thought}

In the “Age of the Internet”, it is hard to imagine having to navigated our journeys through the long, often dark, maze of infertility without the World Wide Web at our fingertips.

If you are like countless others, you may have taken to the internet to seek out support and information. There are many chat rooms, online communities and sites out there. You can even find various broad infertility groups and very specific chat groups based on your diagnosis in RESOLVE’S online community called Inspire.

There are also very scary things – dangerous things – online. Thousands of websites offer to sell prescription infertility “solutions” without a prescription. Back in the infertility chat rooms, you may see hundreds of posts from women searching the Internet for discount fertility treatments (injectable hormones, pills, gels, you name it). Like many struggling with infertility, they are desperate for solutions that would result in a baby and would do just about anything to have a family including putting themselves at risk online.

Why should I vet online “pharmacies”?

These so-called online “pharmacies” prey on vulnerable patients who are desperate enough to try anything for a cure. They offer deep discounts, free shipping, and sales without a prescription promising a remedy, or in my case, a chance for a family. Sound good too to be true? It is.

97% of these so-called “pharmacy” sites operate illegally, out of compliance with laws put in place to protect patients.1

50% of the medicines sold online are counterfeit.2 Counterfeit medicines have been found to contain arsenic, chalk, rat poison, boric acid and paint.3 Real medicines can rarely be distinguishable from the fakes – even by professionally trained eyes.

But even if you are in the lucky 50% and don’t get a fake, medicines – especially fertility medicines –often require special handling and/or cold-chain storage to remain effective.

How do I find safe sources online?

The good news is that there are tools out there to help combat the counterfeit crisis and provide patients access to authentic medicines, both offline and online:

Use the free EMD Serono app Check My Meds™ to instantly authenticate the serial number on the packages of most EMD Serono medications;

Buy medicines from your local licensed pharmacy or through licensed mail order pharmacies;

Find a licensed online pharmacy on the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s VIPPS list;

Use www.legitscript.com to check the legitimacy of any Internet pharmacy website  Shop on websites that end in the “.pharmacy” domain, like www.safe.pharmacy;

Educate yourself and your family using the videos and factsheets at www.safeonlinerx.com.

The Internet has expanded so rapidly over recent years – in both good and bad ways.

Contributed by: Libby Baney, J.D. is the Executive Director of the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP Global), a nonprofit dedicated to protecting patient safety online.

Footnotes:

1 National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s Internet Drug Outlet Report (various versions). See also www.LegitScript.com

2 World Health Organization:

3 Partnership for Safe Medicines.org