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Thinking about prescription drugs to lose weight? Don't risk your health in the process.

copyright 2003 Frank Sousa

A recent article in the Washington Post titled "Doctors Medicate Strangers on the Web" tells how Internet pharmacies have their own doctors writing prescriptions over the Internet.

The article described a Dr. Ernesto Cantu, an admitted drug addict, who wrote thousands of prescriptions for painkillers for customers of a now defunct online pharmacy, pillbox.com.

"Those orders were based on brief telephone conversations with patients Cantu never examined or even met. All together, he approved more than 1 million doses of dangerous drugs court records show."

The article goes on to state how Internet pharmacies have attracted doctors with substance abuse problems, legal setbacks and financial woes. Cantu was earning as much as $1500 a day writing these prescriptions. Other online "doctors" are making as much as $500,000 a year writing prescriptions for people that they've never met. Often the only criteria for writing these prescriptions is information that people fill out on a medical questionnaire from the pharmacy's website.

Do you really think that these doctors or pharmacies have the best interest of their patients at heart? They have one objective, and that is to sell drugs. The more drugs they sell the more money they make.

To quote from one of the online pharmacy's FAQs. "Online consultations are a new concept in health care that utilize the Internet to improve patient access to physician care." Some improvement! Can they take your blood pressure? Can they listen to your heart and your lungs? Can they look at blood and urine samples? Can they test for correct kidney functions and cholesterol levels? Do they know your medical history or just what you put onto their form?

Don't gamble with your health. You need a prescription to buy these drugs for a reason. All drugs have certain interactions, side effects and dangers. For example one of the side affects of the popular weight loss drug Phentermine is that it can be highly addictive. Hmm... most of these online pharmacy sites fail to mention that. More than a two week's dosage can be dangerous.

Your doctor must determine if you suffer from high blood pressure, an over-active thyroid, glaucoma, diabetes, or emotional problems. Other drugs can cause liver problems. How can these online quacks test for those things?

I recently did a keyword search on Google for the top thirty online pharmacies listed under the weight loss drug Phentermine. Out of the top thirty, more than half were on domains registered outside the US. Why? To avoid prosecution! NONE of them gave any information about which doctor would be prescribing the medication and what credentials he or she had. Only ONE of them would give the name and address of the pharmacy that filled the prescription.

Would you buy a Rolex from someone you didn't know who wouldn't give you his address? I didn't think so. Why would you sacrifice your health and possibly your life to an unknown, unseen "doctor" who's income depends on the number of prescriptions he writes? How do you know what credentials he or she has? You don't. How do you know if that's really a doctor on the other end of the email or telephone?

Are all online pharmacies dangerous? Not at all. There are many good reason to buy prescriptions online. Convenience? Price?

How do you know which are legitimate and which aren't? If a pharmacy claims to have it's own doctors or refers you to a middle man for an online "check up" get out of there fast! No legitimate pharmacy will sell dangerous drugs without a prescription from your own doctor.

Each state has it's own Board of Pharmacy. There is a National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) that maintains a website listing all online pharmacies that have undergone a quite rigorous certification program. This program is called Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites. Conditions include:

  • maintaining all state licenses in good standing
  • allowing information about the pharmacy to be posted and maintained on the VIPPS Web site at http://www.nabp.net/vipps/consumer/listall.asp
  • allowing an NABP-sanctioned team to inspect it's operations, given reasonable notice
  • displaying and maintaining the VIPPS seal with a link to the VIPPS web site

If the above hasn't convinced you to work through your local doctor, maybe this will.

Most of the online pharmacies that I searched through claimed to have the best Phentermine prices on the net.

Best for who? Certainly not you, the consumer.

Their "discount" price for a 15 mg 60 count supply averaged $102.29 with all but one charging $18.00 for shipping. The LOWEST price I could find there was $67.99 with $18 shipping.

I visited several of the websites listed on the VIPPS website.

At drugstore.com, which was one of the sites listed, I could buy the same dosage and pill count for $42.99. Their shipping charge was $1.49. Other sites seemed to be about $55.

Next I called a local pharmacy. Their price was $57.99. Our local Costco pharmacy sells the same thing for $44.29. Best prices on the net? I think not.

Don't pay over twice the normal price for the "privilege" of buying drugs without your doctor's advice. It could be the last mistake you'll ever make.

Read the entire Washington Post article here.

Frank Sousa is webmaster for two weight loss related websites, weightloss-zone.com a weight loss search engine, and 101weightlossarticles.com a collection of information relating to weight loss.

He may be contacted at frank@weightloss-zone.com

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