Dietary Supplements, Counterfeit Drugs, and The Internet

There are some websites that sell prescription drugs that may not be safe. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns consumers about the possible dangers of buying medicines over the Internet.

There are many websites that sell drugs that have not been checked for safety or effectiveness and may be dangerous. Some websites sell unapproved drugs that contain the wrong active ingredient, may contain too much or too little of the active ingredient, or contain dangerous ingredients.

Dietary Supplements and Counterfeit Drugs online

Counterfeit Drugs

Counterfeit drugs are illegal and can be hard to identify because they may look like the authentic approved product. Counterfeit drugs are mislabeled and sold under an existing brand or generic name without authorization.

The FDA provides the following tips on how to protect yourself. For more information, visit the FDA’s web page on Counterfeit Medicine.

Dietary Supplements, Counterfeit Drugs, and The Internet
  • Only buy from state-licensed pharmacy websites located in the U.S.
  • Don't buy from websites that sell prescription drugs without a prescription.
  • Don't buy from websites that offer to prescribe a drug for the first time without a physical exam by your doctor or by answering an online questionnaire.
  • Check with your state board of pharmacy or the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy to see if an online pharmacy has a valid pharmacy license and meets state quality standards.
  • Look for privacy and security policies that are easy to find and easy to understand.
  • Don't give any personal information—such as a social security number, credit card information, or medical or health history—unless you are sure the website will keep your information safe and private.
  • Use legitimate websites that have a licensed pharmacist to answer your question.
  • Make sure that the website will not sell your personal information, unless you agree.

Dietary Supplements

Many supplements contain ingredients that can harm and may not be safe in all people. Talk to your doctor before you take any dietary supplement. Dietary supplements come in many forms, including tablets, capsules, powders, energy bars, and liquids.

It is important to know that the makers of dietary supplements do not have to get FDA approval before making or selling dietary supplements. Supplements like Hydroxycut®, Forskolin, Garcinia Cambogia are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. It is illegal to sell a supplement product as a treatment or cure for a specific disease or to help lessen the symptoms of a disease.

Before taking a dietary supplement, make sure that the supplement is safe for you. Some ingredients and products can be harmful when consumed in high amounts, taken for a long time, or used in combination with some other drugs or foods. Do not substitute a dietary supplement for a prescription medicine or therapy.

If you have a bad reaction with a dietary supplement, you should contact your doctor immediately. You and your doctor should tell the FDA as soon as possible. For more information, visit the FDA web page