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Rx To Avoid Rip-Off Pharmacies

Prevention magazine spent four months investigating online pharmacies. What their team found was a disturbing mass of rip-offs, fake drugs, mislabeled prescriptions and very dangerous practices.

The magazine's senior editor Laura Petrecca led the investigation. She tells The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith, "People can get any drug they want at any time they want as long as they have a computer, credit card and cash. They simply fill out an online form and it's delivered to the home. It's shocking."

No prescription is necessary. Consumers need to be aware of this, especially if they have teens in the house looking for steroids and even Viagra. All young people will need, Petracca notes, is to set up an online account. Some of the shady sites also take cash and send the drugs to P.O. box addresses.

Petracca says, "Many people don't realize teenagers can be going online. You don't know what they're doing. You can get any drug. It can be counterfeit, knocked off or mislabeled. There are so many dangers in doing this."

Most of the people buying from e-pharmacies are average consumers, looking for drugs to help them with weight loss or hair growth. These are people who may not want to go to the doctor first for fear of being denied the prescription, Petracca explains.

"They simply provide a credit card number and in two weeks they have a controlled drug at the doorstep," she notes.

And some people are getting sick. They are getting the wrong drugs and they are not getting what they paid for, according to the Prevention team members who went undercover and ordered drugs.

Petracca says, "Packages showed up damaged and crushed and crumbled or no dosing instructions at all or dosing instructions only in a foreign language. How can you take it if you don't know how to take it?"

But there are also legitimate sites like and other similar sites that require that a prescription to be faxed or mailed in. Visit for a list approved by the FDA.

Petracca notes, "If you do it, make sure you have a face-to-face doctor visit first, then you can fax or mail in your prescription."

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