We live in an increasingly fast paced society. There is so much to do in a short amount of time. The convenience of modern technology makes juggling our daily tasks easier by freeing up some of our time. Instead of stopping by to see a friend, we keep in touch by using our cell phones to send a quick text. We use our computers to send e-mails to our co-workers sitting three cubicles away so we can meet the deadline for an important project. In addition, the internet offers limitless modern conveniences such as shopping for Christmas gifts, personal banking, shopping for groceries and purchasing prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Although online pharmacies and drug distributors offer substantial savings for the consumer, the quality and safety of the merchandise can be questionable.
For the consumer, there are many benefits to making drug purchases online. Most online pharmacies have lower prices, which is a plus in today’s economy. They also make it easier to compare prices between other pharmacies. Most websites list the insurance plans they work with for ease of use. The consumer can also receive discounts for other health care products when purchasing online. Having the drugs delivered directly to consumers’ homes is also a benefit for the elderly and very ill patients because it eliminates their need to travel to a local pharmacy. 
The convenience of purchasing drugs online seems ideal from a timesaving standpoint, but do we really know what we’re purchasing and who we’re purchasing it from? There are serious risks involved. Recently the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning about the potential dangers associated with purchasing drugs online. “Some Web sites sell prescription and over the counter drugs that may not be safe to use and could put people’s health at risk.”  Some of the risks mentioned are receiving drugs that don’t have the right active ingredient, drugs that contain too strong or too weak of the active ingredient, counterfeit drugs, expired drugs or drugs that are not approved by the FDA. 
When it comes to purchasing products that can impact our life in a major way, extra precautions must be taken to protect ourselves and our families. Law enforcement agents recently arrested two individuals from China for selling counterfeit Alli, a weight loss drug manufactured by Glaxo-Smith Kline. One of the components found in the counterfeit product was Sibutramine which can cause very serious adverse effects such as high blood pressure and seizures. The product was sold in the United States through internet auction websites. A consumer who suffered several adverse effects after taking the counterfeit product notified the authorities. 
Since online drug purchases can be made without a physical examination or authorization from a licensed health care provider, consumers must be proactive and take a safe approach in their decisions to make drug purchases online. The FDA has given the following tips to spot an unsafe online pharmacy website:
- You receive drugs with unknown quality or origin
- You receive the wrong drug or another dangerous product for your illness
- The site does not provide a way to contact the Web site by phone
- The site advertises prices dramatically below the competitors’ prices
- The site offers to sell prescription drugs without a prescription, which is illegal
- The site may not protect your personal information 
Taking the extra steps to look into the legitimacy of an online pharmacy may seem like a hassle. On the other hand, one can avoid wasting money on drugs that could be harmful to their health and save time from having to deal with the dangerous physical and mental side effects that could be caused by these drugs. To ensure you’ll be around to enjoy the future benefits of modern technology, put yourself first and do the research.