Buyer Beware: Fradulent Online Sellers Prey on Anthrax Fears - Adventist HealthCare

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News Release

Media Contact: Tom Grant

Published on November 15, 2001

Press Release

Buyer Beware: Fraudulent Online Sellers Prey on Anthrax Fears

There’s always someone around ready to take advantage of people who are worried and scared. The latest example is the current concern over anthrax. Within days of the first reports of anthrax on the East Coast, Americans were receiving e-mail messages directing them to Web sites claiming to sell anti-anthrax medications.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning consumers to be careful about sites promising prescriptions for the antibiotic Ciprofloxacin (Cipro) and other anthrax medications.

The medications sold by such sites could be counterfeit and possibly dangerous, the FTC advises. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—the federal agency that monitors diseases and health threats such as anthrax—says only people exposed to anthrax should receive antibiotics.

Prescribing antibiotics to people who aren’t infected could reduce the drug supply in the event of a real emergency. There’s also concern that overuse of antibiotics leads to the development of germs that become resistant to the medications, making the drugs less effective. People who think they’ve been infected with anthrax should see a doctor immediately.

The FTC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) offer this general advice on buying medications online:

  • Don’t buy from sites that offer to prescribe drugs without a physical exam, sell drugs without a prescription or sell drugs unapproved by the FDA.
  • Don’t do business with sites that don’t provide access to pharmacists that will answer questions.
  • Avoid sites that don’t provide their names, physical address and a phone number.
  • Don’t purchase drugs from foreign Web sites. It’s generally illegal to import drugs sold by these sites.
  • If you buy drugs online, pay with a credit card so that you can stop payment if you don’t receive your goods.

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