The Safety of Patient Information in Online Prescriptions

Lynn Martelli
Lynn Martelli

The advent of the internet is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing insofar as it makes banking, applying for loans, ordering food, and so on easy and convenient. And it’s a curse insofar as it can expose people to identity theft. Studies show that many people in the U.S. have fallen victim to identity theft due to data breaches, imposter scams, phishing emails, malware, and spyware.

The U.S. Department of Justice Discusses Identity Theft in America

According to study data published by the U.S. Department of Justice, an estimated 23.9 million Americans aged 16 and older experienced identity theft in 2021. That works out to roughly 9% of the U.S. population. Of those victimized in this way, around 4% had their credit card misused, approximately 3% had their bank account compromised, roughly 1% had their personal information misused to open new accounts, and an estimated 1% had their personally identifiable information (PII) misused to pay for medical care, apply for jobs, or receive government benefits.

The True Cost of Identity Theft

To say that identity theft is costing American businesses and American people a fortune would be a gross understatement. Available data shows that U.S. businesses lose $56 billion to $100 billion annually to identity theft. Meanwhile, private U.S. consumers lose over $2 billion and collectively spend around 100 million hours trying to clear their name after having their identities stolen and their information used fraudulently. For some people, identity theft is costing them more than money alone.

Studies Show Online Pharmacy Fraud Is on the Rise

One type of fraud that has become more prevalent in the U.S. and, ostensibly, other parts of the world involves online pharmacies. Along with identity theft and payment fraud, some of these pharmacies engage in acts that jeopardize the health and lives of consumers. According to a study published by Formulary Watch, a website affiliated with Managed Healthcare Executive, 95% of the roughly 35,000 pharmacies online operate illegally. The study found that many routinely violate state or federal laws and good pharmacy practice standards. Some of the things these pharmacies are known to be involved in include the following:

  • Distribution of counterfeit medications
  • Failing to deliver purchased medication, durable medical equipment, or both
  • Filling and distributing prescription medications without a valid prescription

A Closer Look at the Dangers of Fraudulent Online Pharmacies

The distribution of counterfeit medications by fraudulent online pharmacies is especially concerning. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), many of these pharmacies sell opioids laced with high concentrations of illicitly manufactured fentanyl. Some people become addicted to these drugs and experience severe withdrawal symptoms if they have to go without them for too long. Some of the more notable of these withdrawal symptoms include the following:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic and profuse sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Respiratory problems
  • Tachycardia
  • Tremors

Along with suffering from these symptoms, many people overdose and even die as a result of taking fentanyl-laced opioids. For reference, the illicit fentanyl found in opioids contributed to nearly 70% of all overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2022. While opioids are the biggest problem when it comes to online fraudulent pharmacies, it is hardly the only one. Multiple studies show that various medications dispensed by these online pharmacies contain too much or too little of an active ingredient or the wrong ingredient entirely. The same studies also show that many fraudulent online pharmacies knowingly dispense medications not intended to treat an individual’s unique health problem.

Fraudulent Online Pharmacies and Human Growth Hormone Drugs: What More People Need To Know

A National Institutes of Health (NIH) study revealed that around 50,000 American adults are struggling with a human growth hormone (HGH) deficiency. Such a hormonal deficiency can trigger a variety of symptoms, some of which include reduced bone and muscle mass, anxiety, depression, low libido, and weight gain. Legal HGH prescription can boost low HGH levels and provide relief from these and other symptoms, but the cost of these medications can be high.

For this reason, many people purchase them from online pharmacies that offer lower prices than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Generally speaking, that’s fine and even encouraged since doing so allows them to save money. Unfortunately, many of those pharmacies are fraudulent online pharmacies. HGH medications from these pharmacies are often counterfeit, with the majority containing no active ingredients, incorrect dosages, or toxic substances, such as bacteria, industrial solvents, or heavy metals.

Many fraudulent online pharmacies also fill and sell HGH medications without requiring a valid prescription from a licensed physician, which can lead to misuse on the part of the consumer. Studies show that the misuse of HGH medications can cause nerve pain, muscle stiffness, diabetes, and even organ damage.

How To Safeguard Your Health and Personal Information When Filling Prescriptions Online

Multiple risks come with filling a prescription online. And along with putting your health and life at risk, they can open you up to identity theft and fraud. But there are ways to stay safe while still benefiting from the convenience of having your HGH and other prescriptions filled online.

Firstly, avoid any pharmacy willing to fill a prescription-based medication without a valid prescription. Second, stick with national and well-known pharmacies that offer online services if you’re interested in filling your prescription online. Third, only provide enough personally identifiable information necessary to fill your prescription. Providing too much can increase the risk of identity theft and fraud. Lastly, don’t hesitate to speak with your physician if you have questions or if something doesn’t seem right about a medication you received from an online pharmacy.

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