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Buying Prescription Drugs Online

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What Is Unique about Online Pharmacies?

The Internet has introduced a wide variety of complications for the regulation of legal drug purchases. Online drug sales pose unique challenges for regulatory and law enforcement agencies at the state, federal and international level. Internet technology can obscure the source of the product as well as provide a degree of anonymity to those responsible for selling and shipping the product. The parties to a transaction can be dispersed geographically and usually never meet. Thus, the regulatory and enforcement issues cross state, federal, and international jurisdictional lines.

Is it Illegal to Buy Prescription Drugs from a Foreign Online Pharmacy?

It is technically illegal to buy prescription drugs online because these drugs have not been approved by the FDA, meaning that they are counterfeit drugs. However, it is very rare that someone would be prosecuted for buying prescription drugs that are only for personal use and for which a valid prescription exists. Some consideration is paid to the type of drug that is being purchased, with more scrutiny placed on pain killers, tranquilizers, and other prescription drugs which have a viable black market value. However, people who sell prescription drugs online are likely to be prosecuted for selling them, and they may also be prosecuted for prescription fraud if they have obtained the drugs illegally.

Is It Illegal to Purchase Medicine from a Domestic Online Pharmacy?

While most prosecutions in this area are made against the suppliers, marketers, and distributors, there are several categories of violations that may include the purchaser and consumer of an online pharmacy. The following are areas in which the government has sought successful prosecutions against those involved with online pharmacies:

  • The sale, distribution or importation of an adulterated or misbranded drug
  • The sale, distribution or importation of an unapproved new drug
  • Illegal promotion of a drug
  • The sale or dispensing of a prescription drug without a valid prescription
  • Counterfeit drugs
  • Purchasing prescription drugs in such quantity as to infer selling
  • Purchasing prescription drugs for illicit use and for sale on the black market

Should I Consult a Defense Attorney if I Buy or Sell Prescription Drugs Online?

Because the Internet is such a new invention, the legal regulations are rapidly evolving. Federal and state laws are being enacted at such a rate that it can be difficult to know exactly what the current state of the law is. In addition to this, one may incur heavy fines and penalties for violations in this area. Therefore, consultation with a criminal defense attorney can be extremely beneficial.

Photo of page author Peter Clarke

, LegalMatch Content Manager

Last Modified: 08-31-2017 01:18 PM PDT

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