Consumers may not know exactly what they are getting when buying such antiviral products on the Internet from an unfamiliar company. Patients who buy prescription drugs from Web sites operating outside the law are at increased risk of suffering life-threatening adverse events, such as side effects from inappropriately using prescription medications, dangerous drug interactions, contaminated drugs, and impure or unknown ingredients found in unapproved drugs. This may particularly be the case in the event of a public health emergency, such as an influenza outbreak, where approved treatment options would be in high demand and expensive, and where drug shortages could occur.
Drugs that are in high demand are vulnerable to counterfeiting and diversion because buyers may be desperate to stock the product, and criminals capitalize on the situation.
The FDA urges consumers to only purchase FDA-approved products from licensed pharmacies located in the United States. Consumers should contact their health care provider if they have any questions or concerns about medical products or personal protective equipment.
The two antiviral drugs approved by the FDA for treatment and prophylaxis of the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus are Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate) and Relenza (zanamivir).
Tamiflu and Relenza, in addition to their approved label, have Emergency Use Authorizations that describe specific authorized uses during this public health emergency.
The FDA actively monitors the Internet, and where appropriate, will purchase and analyze drug products.
Consumers can also visit FDA's Web site for tips about how to protect themselves when buying medicines online.
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|SOURCE U.S. Food and Drug Administration|
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