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Buy souvenirs — not medications — while on vacation

Published in Pharmacy Author: David Thomas, RPh

You are off to the warm, sunny beaches of Mexico. Since you’re there, why not save some money and pick up your cholesterol medication? The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has seven reasons why this not a good idea.

  1. Quality assurance concerns. Medications that have not been approved for sale in the United States may not have been manufactured under quality assurance procedures designed to produce a safe and effective product.
  2. Counterfeit potential. Some medications — even those that bear the name of a U.S.-approved product — may be counterfeit versions that are unsafe or even completely ineffective.
  3. Presence of untested substances. Medications and their ingredients may not have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness in the United States. These products may be addictive or contain other dangerous substances.
  4. Risks of unsupervised use. Some medications are unsafe when taken without adequate medical supervision. You may need a medical evaluation to ensure that the medication is appropriate for you and your condition. Or, you may require medical checkups to make sure that you are taking the drug properly, it is working for you and that you are not having unexpected or life-threatening side effects.
  5. Labeling and language issues. The medication’s label, including instructions for use and possible side effects, may be in a language you do not understand or may make medical claims and suggest specific uses that have not been adequately evaluated for safety and effectiveness.
  6. Lack of information. The medication may lack information that would permit you to be promptly and correctly treated for a dangerous side effect caused by the drug.
  7. It’s illegal. Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), in most circumstances the interstate shipment of any prescription drug that lacks required FDA approval is illegal. Interstate shipment includes importation — bringing drugs from a foreign country into the United States.