The FDA has launched a new, high-profile Web site to warn patients of the risks of buying Accutane (isotretinoin) over the Internet. Calling the controversial acne drug "a potentially dangerous prescription medicine that should only be taken under the close supervision of your health care professional and pharmacist,"the FDA's online warning advises pregnant women and those who may become pregnant that "isotretinoin can cause birth defects, miscarriage, premature births, and death in babies."
Buying this drug online "bypasses important procedures to ensure that patients can take this drug safely,"the agency's Web site explains. In addition to those dangers, the FDA's online notice warns patients that "when you buy drugs over the Internet, especially from sites that don't require a prescription, you may get counterfeit products, products with dangerous ingredients, products that don't work, and products that were not labeled or shipped correctly."
The new Web site includes a link to other FDA online resources, including the agency's guide for "Buying Medicines and Medical Products Online."The FDA urges patients who buy drugs online to "make sure the site requires a prescription and has a pharmacist available for questions."
Additionally, the FDA recommends buying "only from licensed pharmacies located in the United States,"and ensuring that the online pharmacy is certified by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. The site can be accessed at www.fda.gov/buyonline/accutane.