What to look for when buying prescription medication online to avoid being scammed.

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CLEVELAND -- The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy reviewed 10,000 online pharmacy sites and found 97 percent of them sell fake or dangerous drugs.

Rule number one: always use a trusted source, like a pharmacy you do business with offline too. If you're online, always look for the VIPPS seal of approval.

That means the NABP has reviewed and approved the website as a Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site. Click on the seal to see if the explainer pops up.

Click HERE for more tips from NABP and to see a list of NOT recommended websites.

But it's also a good idea to do your own homework to check out a site. When we took a closer look at the websites we thought were legitimate, we found a number of clues that we should have checked out first. For example, on the bottom of one, it says it has the approval of the American Pharmacists Association but it had a different logo than the actual organization. That should be a red flag.

When we called the phone number provided, which had a Los Angeles area code, we got an answering machine with a foreign voice that was very difficult to understand that told us to leave a message. Not being able to talk to someone raised another red flag.

We couldn't get an actual address for their headquarters in Canada or the U.S. until we put in our billing information. Before you hit purchase, go back and look for contact info. Then type the address into a Google search. The website showed pictures of respectable office buildings but, when we searched, we found that the address not only didn't exist, the closest location was a park and across the street is a restaurant and bar district. There was no office building that resembled the picture.

On the picture of the Houston headquarters, it even had a Canadian Pharmacy sign on the side of the building. But our address search showed another fake address. This one would have actually been in the middle of an intersection and there was no Canadian pharmacy sign on any of the surrounding buildings.

According to NABP, other warning signs of questionable sites include:

  • If they don't require a prescription from your doctor
  • If they're willing to send you prescription medication for simply filling out a questionaire
  • If they sell controlled substances, like pain medication, without a prescription.

The medication we purchased and tested did contain the active ingredient, but we couldn't tell what the dose was. What was more concerning is the fact that it also contained medication that had no business being in the drug.

We also didn't know what was used in the binding ingredients that kept the pill together. Pfizer's investigators often found Boric Acid and Sheet Rock used as binders.

If you're in need of cheaper medication, contact the pharmaceutical company that makes the drug. Often they will have a program to help people afford their medication.

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