Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dangers of Internet Drugs

The FDA recently issued a warning about a flu medication- Tamiflu- that was being sold online. It was marketed as "generic Tamiflu", but really had a PENICILLIN derivative (cloxacillin) instead of the anti-viral drug. Can you imagine what would happen if you are severely allergic to penicillin and took this drug to combat flu symptoms? You could potentially send yourself to the emergency room (or die on the way there from anaphylaxis) because you were trying to save money and time by self-diagnosing and ordering medications on line.
While this is an extreme example, it points out yet another danger of the internet. Many drugs are available online at discounted rates, but there is less supervision about the content and quality of these drugs. In addition, self-diagnosing frequently leads to incorrect treatment. I'm not saying every medical issue is challenging, by the way. A simple cold, strep throat or a sprained ankle are typically straight-forward. However, few medical challenges occur in isolation, and with the poly-pharmacy that most Americans choose these days, a few years of medical education come in handy to sort out interactions.
BOTTOM LINE: Buyer beware! Internet "specials" on drugs may not be such a great deal.

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