Officials: Rogue online pharmacies a major threat to society

Amy Neville lost 14-year-old son Alexander due to fentanyl overdose.
Posted at 6:23 PM, Nov 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-02 18:23:12-04

(WXYZ) — Buying prescription drugs from rogue online pharmacies can be dangerous, or even deadly. That’s the message stressed by the FDA and ASOP Global Foundation, both are working towards making the internet safer for patients.

They say there are about 35,000 online pharmacies worldwide, of which 95% operate illegally.

In fact, nearly half of Americans across all demographics continue to purchase medications online, and since most of them are fake sellers there is no way of knowing what you are going to get.

"He took 1 pill. That pill had contained enough fentanyl in it to kill 4 people," says Amy Neville.

14-year-old Alexander was Amy Neville’s best friend. Both mother and son were each other’s counterparts.

"I could look at him across the room and we could tell what each other were thinking," says Amy Neville.

But the morning of June 23rd, 2020, their lives changed forever. Alexander died due to a fake pill he bought over a popular social media app that allows messages to vanish.

"There are images from that day that are burned into my brain. One, seeing him on his bedroom floor, when they wheel him out of our house, and when I said my goodbye," says Amy Neville.

The trend to purchase drugs online has picked up over the year. Libby Baney from ASOP Global says 1 in 5 Americans put themselves at risk by relying on social media and search engine results as a source for health care products.

"The problem with substandard, falsified, or counterfeit medicine extends the gamut from death to no therapeutic benefit to other types of harms, consumers are at risk if you buy outside the regulated supply chain," says Libby L. Baney, senior advisor to ASOP Global.

To make matter worse, 72% of Americans believe websites selling prescription medications appearing in search results are legitimate. FDA’s Dan Burke says the problem was exacerbated during the pandemic as people turned to the web to find the cure for the coronavirus.

"We have seen anything from approved medications like Ivermectin and chloroquine to bizarre stuff. I’ve seen copper buttons, medical music being touted as a cure for COVID. In my career I’ve even seen bags of dirt sold," says Dan Burke, Division Chief of Cyber Operations, Food and Drug Administration.

Meanwhile, the FDA is cracking down more than ever on various sites and social accounts to catch dealers in the US and across the globe. As well organizations like ASOP Global are pushing for more reforms.

"Another thing we need is a domain name reform, so illegal drug sellers can't license a domain name and use it to sell drugs to Americans," says Libby L. Baney, senior advisor to ASOP Global.

Also, the best way to buy medication is from a local pharmacy, and if online then make sure it's from a safe and authorized source.

To verify Libby says to click here.