Internet-Based Medication Scams

Previously we have discussed the potential for dangerous fraud in pet medications.

Yesterday an Associated Press wirestory by Marilynn Marchione told horror stories of swine flu-related products that ranged from diagnostics to therapeutics. “Medications” are being sold online without a prescription. One product the FDA tested, claiming to be Tamiflu, contained only talcum powder and acetaminophen.

One shudders to think what worse, more harmful contaminants might show up before the investigation is finished.

One also shudders to think that if there are people out there who will do this to their fellow human beings, what would (or are) those same people doing to the innocent pets we love?

Just for one example, heartworm disease is usually a treatable disease in dogs (but not in cats). Do we, however, want to have to treat our dog for heartworms because someone sold us fake heartworm preventive  at a “discount”?

Or lose our cat to heartworm disease because we saved a few dollars on what turned out to not be heartworm preventive?

I am, by nature, a trusting person. Even though I’ve been burned more than a few times in five decades I still tend to believe that if a person says something, it’s so.

These days it pays to have some healthy scepticism.

Recently I was comparing notes with a friend about our respective trips to Central America. She commented that there was a “pharmacy” she visited on her trip that sold everything from aspirin to Oxycontin, and didn’t require a prescription. She purchased a medication she needed because it couldn’t wait until she got back home and felt confident in it because “it had packaging just like the same medication I’d bought at home, was sealed in foil, just like my regular pharmacy.”

A “con” man’s nickname comes from the word “con“-fidence. In order to fool you into parting with your money he first gains your confidence through a variety of techniques.

Your confidence is bolstered in these fake medications because of the quality of the outer wrap, the packaging. It’s cheap and easy enough to copy the packaging of your favorite heartworm preventive, then stick sugar pills or lemon-lime soda into the package to convince you that you’re getting the real thing.

Until it’s too late, and your pet is already ill.

Your alternative is obtaining your pets’ medications directly from your veterinarian, whom you already know and trust.

See you Monday, Dr. Randolph.

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