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Beware of Dangerous Fake Drugs Sold on the Internet

Evidently, some patients are so addicted to their pills, that help them "beat" heartburn, depression and "high" cholesterol, they'll even risk purchasing their prescription drugs from online profiteers producing hard-to-spot look-a-likes that are either no more effective than candy or too potent, according to this extensive, must-read BusinessWeek piece.

It's not only desperation -- excessive-to-obscene drug prices and consumers with no health insurance -- that's fueling this demand. According to a Columbia University study of 185 online pharmacies, only 11 percent required a prescription, meaning the estimate of Web sites selling fakes may be as high as the tens of thousands. Also, nearly 25 percent of all the e-mail you receive every day consists of selling drugs, and more often than not, fakes too.

The rest of the story describes the plight of one online entrepreneur living in Atlanta whose legal wrangling with drugmakers and the DEA led to his September arrest, allegedly for funding an offshore prescription drug operation in Belize. Here's the real kicker: The company he fronted still makes money selling over-the-counter products claiming to stimulate the libido in Wal-Mart, CVS and Kroger stores.

As I warned you more than three years ago, very few patients really need prescription drugs at all if they find a physician willing to address the real cause of their medical condition, and not all the symptoms.

BusinessWeek Online December 18, 2006