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Spam that advertises Canadian pharmacies makes up a very significant percentage of all the spam out there. Part of the reason there is so much of this spam is that it works. There is a huge incentive driven extensively by the American pharmaceutical industry keeping prices artificially high in America. Many Americans cannot afford the drugs they require when buying in the USA and so Canadian pharmacies are a very attractive alternative.
Let’s take a look at the economics for a moment. Since Viagra seems to be about the most advertised drug in the spam, we’ll use that for a price comparison. If you check online at http://pharmacychecker.com you’ll find that purchasing 20 of the 100 mg Viagra tablets at Costco.com costs about $324 or $16 per pill. 24 of the pills at the Canadian pharmacy PlanetDrugsDirect.com cost $226, or $9.42 per pill, but that isn’t the whole story. In the USA you can’t buy a generic version of Viagra, but you can buy them from online Canadian pharmacies and the price for 80 of the generic tablets at PlanetDrugsDirect.com is $128.00, or $1.60 each.
Lipitor is another popular medication. At Costco .com 50 of the 80 mg pills are $206.38, or $4.13 each. At PlanetDrugsDirect.com 90 of these pills are $174, or about $1.93 each.
Given the price differentials ordering from online Canadian pharmacies has become a very big business and that attracts the criminal element. People who do not do their homework before purchasing prescription medications from an online pharmacy are going to become victims.
Let’s take a look at a scam site and compare it to a legitimate site. The scam sites are very easy to find, they are the ones who spam you, the legitimate sites do not. One well known criminal site is the Canadian Health&Care Mall.
CAUTION: I DO NOT RECOMMEND YOU VISIT THE WEBSITE. IT MAY HOST MALWARE.
As you can see from the picture below, the site looks very professional.
If you scroll to the bottom of their web page, they appear to have some great credentials.
Clicking on the FDA logo yields the following certificate.
I hope you have guessed by now that this is a bogus certificate. The FDA recommends against buying from international web sites and makes absolutely no certifications of Canadian pharmacies at all. Additionally, notice that the certificate is housed on its own website. Let’s click on the American Pharmacists Association logo.
The American Pharmacists Association does not issue such certificates. This is yet another bogus certificate that is also housed on the scammer’s web site.
So how do you determine if you are dealing with a legitimate Canadian pharmacy? The legal Canadian pharmacies that are selling online are certified by CIPA, the Canadian International Pharmacy Association. Let’s take a look at a certified member’s web site. This one is PlanetDrugsDirect.com.
If we scroll down the page you will see the legitimate and meaningful certificates on the right side of the screen.
PharmacyChecker.com is a private website that appears to be quite legitimate and CIPArx is the more meaningful certification. If we click on the CIPArx logo we are presented with this:
Notice that the website serving the certification is www.ciparx.ca. This still is not a good way to verify certification. What you want to do is type in www.ciparx.ca yourself and then look up the pharmacy you are considering. Never trust the vendor’s logo first. If you search on ciparx.ca you will find that PlanetDrugsDirect is telling the truth, they are actually certified.
If you go to http://www.pharmacychecker.com/onlinepharmacyratings.asp you can also look up PlanetDrugsDirect.com and see that they are highly rated there as well.
If you try to purchase a prescription drug at Canadian Health&Care Mall, they will sell you something, but there’s no telling what it really will be. If you try the same thing at any legal Canadian pharmacy you will need to submit a prescription. This is yet another way to weed out many of the scammers.
It is important to note that the FDA recommends against buying online from international pharmacies. There are two reasons for this. Many people fail to do their homework and will attempt to buy from an illegitimate vendor. It can be quite dangerous if you require a prescription and the product you get is not the same product as what you require or the quality is inferior. The second reason is that the FDA obtains considerable funding from the American pharmaceutical industry…
The FDA does provide some tips for buying online at http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ProtectYourself/default.htm
One of the links at this site also lists the potential dangers of buying medicines over the internet http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm048396.htm, but do note that many American health insurers require that you purchase maintenance medications over the internet.
It is possible to safely purchase from Canadian pharmacies, but it is imperative that you do your homework and make sure you are dealing with a reputable company. If you are evaluating a Canadian pharmacy then always check with www.ciparx.ca to validate that they are accredited.
PlanetDrugsDirect.com was used as an example and this blog is not a recommendation for them. Costco.com was also used as an example and this blog is not a recommendation for them. Canadian Health&Care Mall was used as an example and this blog is a warning to stay away from them and all pharmacy sites encountered through spam and not properly accredited.
Director of Technical Education
Author ESET Research, ESET