There are phony FDA Agents out there, scamming thousands of dollars from Americans who are trying to save some cash by purchasing their drugs and medicines from overseas pharmacies. This week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a news release warning the public of a scam apparently originating out of the Dominican Republic, where the fakes are finding their victims from online identification provided during their purchase of drugs online (e.g., names, addresses, and phone numbers).
These con artists are then contacting their prey, pretending to be FDA agents or investigators as they warn that purchasing drugs overseas (or online) is a crime carrying stiff penalties…like big fines.
Fines, which the victims can easily pay via wire transfers. And people falling for this scam are sending money to these charlatans. According to the FDA, Americans who have fallen for this scam have sent anywhere from $100 to $250,000 via wire transfers that cannot be tracked down in order to obtain reimbursement.
Meanwhile, the FDA also warns against buying drugs from foreign suppliers online or by phone, arguing that there are quality issues, an increased risk for identity theft, and the vulnerability to scams like this one. The FDA urges Americans to buy their drugs here in the USA.
Meanwhile, the reality is that drugs and medicines overseas cost a lot less than they do here in the United States.
So much so that back in 2004, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich together with then-Representative Rahm Emanuel went to war with the FDA, announcing plans for Illinois to be the first state in the union to actively assist its citizenry in purchasing overseas drugs (from European sources). They even put together their own website to help coordinate the foreign drug buys. Additionally, the first budget that President Obama presented to Congress in 2009 included provisions to allow and aid Americans buying drugs from overseas sources.
The truth is that drugs are overpriced here in the United States. The same drugs can be bought for much less in Canada, Ireland, Mexico, the United Kingdom, etc. The FDA argues that these may be flawed or counterfeit. However, proponents of opening the borders to overseas drug sources counter that counterfeit pharmaceuticals are rare, and for many Americans the only way that they can afford their needed medicines is through a foreign supplier.
Bottom line? Be careful of scammers. Be prudent with your drug purchases.
There are laws on the books (state laws and federal laws) to protect you from harm. However, it will be much more difficult to pursue a products liability or defective drug case against a foreign defendant than a domestic drug maker. That’s one of the risks that you take when you choose to buy foreign pharmaceuticals — at least, until the government attitude toward this practice changes.