Cheap Medicines A Click Away? Beware

The next time you're tempted to save a few dollars by ordering cheap prescription drugs from Canada off Internet sites, CBS News correspondent Jim Stewart reports, you might want to remember where millions of those drugs were actually made.

In a photo that was on the Internet and made available to CBS News, there's a man in shorts who may look like a technician, but he's actually a felon with a drug conviction. And what might look like Canada is just a rented house in Belize that looks like it could use a good cleaning.

Federal prosecutors on Wednesday charged 11 people and an Atlanta-based company with a scheme to sell fake drugs over the Internet, promising big savings.

"Consumers thought they were getting legitimate and safe prescription drugs over the Internet from Canada at a reduced price, when, in fact, they were receiving adulterated fake drugs that were crudely made in an unsanitary house in Belize," U.S. Attorney David Nahmias says.

Read the FDA's Consumer Safety Guide To Buying Medicine Online.
Millions were sold, including 24 drugs passed off as the most popular brands like Lipitor and Viagra. Investigators say it's not clear what was actually in them.

"That may not be Lipitor. It may not be Lipitor that's regulated in the manufacture," Nahmias says. "It may not be doing for your body what you expect it to be doing."

Prosecutors say they don't yet know of anyone who got sick by taking the fake drugs. The harm, they suggest, might be that victims didn't take the right ones.

A safe website should be licensed by the state board of pharmacy where the website is operating. Click here to find out if the one you are using is. Internet websites that display the seal of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacies have been checked to make sure they meet state and federal rules. For more on this program and a list of pharmacies that display the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites™ Seal, (VIPPS® Seal), go to

According to a federal affadavit, defendants manufactured and imported into the United States various prescription drugs and controlled substances, including:

  • Anavar
  • Anadrol
  • Stanazolol
  • Xanax
  • Valium
  • Activan
  • Pentermine
  • Ambien
  • Lipitor
  • Celebrex
  • Clobenzorex
  • Clomid
  • Esomprazole
  • Mevacor
  • Vioxx
  • Zoloft
  • Viagra
  • Cialis
  • Novadex
  • Levitra