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Ordering Foreign Medications


Ordering prescription drugs through foreign mail-order houses is not only illegal, but can also be dangerous to your health. Before you place such an order, BBB suggests you know the facts.

Consumers should beware of prescription mail-order houses which advertise U.S.-patented prescription drug products in popular American magazines. According to the ads, American consumers can use a credit card to order medications by a toll- free telephone call, often at greatly reduced prices and apparently without a doctor's prescription. The fact is that the promotion and distribution of unapproved drug products in the U.S. is illegal.

The quality of these so-called "foreign versions" of prescription drugs is often unknown. In several cases the drugs are counterfeits - lacking any real similarity to the approved drug. Directions for appropriate use of the product are often inadequate. The ease, with which these unapproved and sometimes potent mail-order drugs can be obtained, frequently without a doctor's prescription, raises serious concerns about self- medication without the guidance of a licensed practitioner.

Many of the ads for these unapproved drugs claim that you can save money on the costs of prescription drugs, but in reality the drugs may pose a risk to your health. Consumers should be aware that the acquisition and use of prescription drugs without the valid prescription of a physician or other licensed health professional may violate state or local laws. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that severe adverse reactions, including death, can result from the improper use of prescription drugs.

If you have questions about the importation of drug products for personal use, consult with your local FDA district office. If you have questions about an advertised product, contact your local BBB.
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