GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO)-- Health experts say it can be a matter of life and death, and now, federal organizations are cracking down on websites selling counterfeit prescription drugs.
Counterfeit medicine in coming into Colorado from all over the world because some people are ordering their pills online instead of from a certified pharmacy. You may think you're saving money, but health experts say you could be gambling with your life.
"You might get a product that's counterfeit, that's substandard and doesn't have all of the active pharmaceutical ingredient that you need,” FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg, M.D., said. “You might get a product that's expired and won't work the way it should. You might get a product that's contaminated."
Investigators with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security are working with a global task force, aiming to take down online sites selling counterfeit medicine, last week alone seizing 686 sites.
"Some of those companies try shortening the active ingredient, you know, people could have heart failure and all sorts of problems," Chadwick Sommers, a pharmacist at Palisade Pharmacy said. "The quality of all of our medication is modified by the FDA, and they regulate everything, so everything you get from us is regulated, when you go on the internet, you can get medicine from other countries where they don't have the regulations that the FDA does."
Some online pharmacies are legitimate; you can check yours by looking for the VIPPS symbol next to the name, meaning it has been verified by the National Association Boards of Pharmacy.
Out of 10,000 prescription drug websites that were reviewed, 97 percent are not recommended by the National Association Boards of Pharmacy, and 87 percent you don't even need a prescription for the drugs.