Dr. Deborah C. Peel, a physician and founder of the nonprofit Patient Privacy Rights, says patients who buy drugs through mail-order companies could be rolling the dice with their health. Peel says there's a high probability in many cases that these drugs are counterfeit.
"And you don't ever know because the fraudulent tablets look just like the real ones," says Peel.
Peel says ordering from companies that specialize in mail-order sales that are not affiliated with a legitimate insurance company, especially from foreign countries, can be very risky. Not only could the quality be questionable, it could also be illegal.
"But people are desperate because we're being so grossly overcharged for medication," she says.
How to spot it: The best practice is to avoid purchasing drugs from foreign or obscure pharmacies. If you do go the mail-order route, stick with U.S.-based companies. Peel says you can lessen costs by buying generic.
What to do: If it's a U.S. company, you can report the health care fraud to the Food and Drug Administration. But if it's a foreign company, there's little that can or will be done.