APhA coronavirus watch: Crooks are using COVID-19 to scam patients

Illegitimate online pharmacies aren’t new. They’ve been endangering patients by peddling counterfeit, ineffective, improper, and tainted medications for years—some drugs contain too much or too little of the active ingredient or none of it, and some contain harmful substances like rat poison and antifreeze. According to the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies, up to 98% of online pharmacies violate the law.

COVID-19 has provided a ripe opportunity for the unscrupulous to prey on patient’s uncertainty and fear. They’re marketing substandard personal protective equipment and products with false claims to prevent, diagnose, or cure the virus not just on websites but through e-mail, text messages, phone calls, and even home visits. They’re not just after patients’ money—they’re also collecting personal information for further misdeeds.

In April 2020, the Federal Trade Commission said it had received more than 18,000 reports of COVID-19 scams, resulting in the loss of $13.44 million.

Pharmacists can help patients avoid losing their money, their privacy, and their health to rogue actors. Updated information can be found on FDA’s website.

For the full article, please visit www.pharmacytoday.org for the August 2020 issue of Pharmacy Today.