Buying drugs online is risky business
  • Mon, 07/16/2012 - 3:39pm

Last January, published a story about the possible dangers of purchasing over-the-counter medications online. That story said that drugs bought from an online retailer may be:

  • too old, too strong, or too weak
  • made using unsafe standards
  • incompatible with other medications
  • improperly labeled, stored, or shipped
  • counterfeit.

Now there are new concerns: people selling dangerous drugs that have been recalled.

According to Fox News, Novartis Consumer Health recalled pain reliever Excedrin in January, because the company said the medication “may contain stray tablets, capsules, or caplets from other products, or contain broken or chipped tablets.”

Since the recall, Excedrin Extra Strength and Excedrin Migraine have been sold online for hundreds of dollars. The average cost for a bottle was only 8 dollars when it was still on the shelves.

Though Novartis Consumer Health has not released a specific date that Excedrin will resume manufacturing, the company released a statement saying it is trying to get the drug back on shelves.

“We are working hard to return products to store shelves as soon as possible,” it said. “Novartis Consumer Health will restart production on a line-by-line, product-by-product basis to ensure control and adherence to our high standard of quality and expects to begin shipments of a limited portfolio of products in the second half of the year.”

According to the Fox News story, the Excedrin users paying exorbitant prices on and other sites said that other medications do not work as well as the acetaminophen-aspirin-caffeine mix that Excedrin provides. However, until Excedrin is once again deemed safe to sell over-the-counter, health professionals strongly suggest that people do not buy the medication online.

Buying medicine online is risky, but if you wish to do so, it is important to understand that some websites are unsafe. According to, an unsafe website may:

  • send you drugs of unknown quality or origin.
  • lack a way to contact the website by phone.
  • offer prices that are dramatically lower than the competition.
  • sell prescription drugs without a prescription – this is against the law!
  • fail to protect your personal information.

Though risky and not recommended, when buying medications online, it is important to remember to only use websites that employ a licensed pharmacist who will answer your questions. It should also note that your personal information will not be sold without your consent.



About the Contributor

Kaitlin Gill
I report on news regarding product safety concerns for individuals and families.

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