Published Online: Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Instead of gambling on potentially dangerous medicine purchases from foreign Internet sites, patients who are angling to save money on prescription drugs should look to switching to inexpensive generic versions of those medicines, FDA officials warned. Noting that many questionable foreign Web sites enable Americans to order prescription medications without a prescription, the FDA stressed that "the use of prescription drugs without a prescription is an intrinsically unsafe practice."

Significantly, FDA investigators discovered that many patients who buy risky foreign drugs on the Internet are actually paying more than they would for a generic version of the same product at a local pharmacy. "The examination of foreign mail shipments also found that about 45% of the imported products already are available in the United States as an FDA-approved generic drug," agency officials said.

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