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What you need to know about buying weight loss pills online

It’s never been easier for people to buy medicine online. The rise of online pharmacies means patients can buy a range of medications from the comfort of their own home.

However, this is also fraught with risk. These sites lack the oversight that drugstores and other official healthcare providers must adhere to.

Diet tablets are particularly problematic. Weight loss is a lucrative niche and some unscrupulous websites have no qualms about selling dangerous diet pills for profit.

Consequently, these fake online pharmacies may put your patients at risk. This article will break down why this risk is so high, and what patients need to know about buying weight loss pills online.

Safe vs dangerous diet pills

There are a number of prescribed weight loss pills available on the market.

The most well-known weight loss tablet available is Alli. Also sold as Orlistat or Xenical, the tablet is taken immediately before or after a meal. This prevents up to a third of a meal’s fat content being absorbed by the body and instead expels it via feces.

Alli is available without a prescription, readily sold over the counter in pharmacies and online. And while buying it in a mall drugstore is safe, a growing number of patients are going online to buy weight loss pills.

Online pharmacies offer competitive prices and convenient home delivery. Unfortunately, regulating these online pharmacies can be tricky.

Patients are at risk of buying illegitimate or dangerous weight loss pills from these unregulated online pharmacies. Some are sold illegally under the Alli name, while others are marketed as off-brand medications. Either way, the risk of purchasing unlicensed diet pills online is significant when due diligence is not conducted first.

Why are fake diet pills dangerous?

According to The Independent Pharmacy, there are a number of reasons why fake diet pills are so dangerous. Here are just a few risks of unlicensed diet pills:

Unknown ingredients

Legitimate diet pills bought from pharmacies have an audit trail that details their movement along the supply chain. This ensures that each diet pill is manufactured according to industry standards with supervision from appropriate regulatory bodies.

Unlicensed suppliers, however, lack this trail. In a bid to save money, illegitimate manufacturers frequently swap out ingredients for cheaper (but riskier) alternatives. At best, these pills have no effect on the user. At worst, they can cause serious, lasting damage, and can even be fatal.

No quality control checks

As mentioned above, each medicine bought at a legitimate pharmacy has an audit trail to maintain product quality. The supply chain has several quality control steps built-in to the process to ensure everything meets industry standards.

However, dangerous diet pills do not have these quality checks. Consequently, they could be compromised at any step of the supply chain, with contamination posing a real problem during production.

What should my patients look out for?

When you’re buying weight loss pills online, it’s up to you to keep yourself safe. Here are a few things you should look out for to avoid buying dangerous diet pills.

Patients, not profits

Legitimate online pharmacies prioritize their patients’ safety above profit. Consequently, these will be more focused on presenting you with useful safety information. They only want you to make a purchase if the product is right and safe for you.

Illegitimate websites, on the other hand, prioritize profits over patients. They focus more on offering discounts, savings, and cheap prices to lure customers in. If a website offers unusually low prices or special offers on medication, particularly restricted products such as weight loss pills or opioids, then it’s likely an unsafe place to purchase from.

Regulatory body certifications

There are a number of official regulatory bodies which are responsible for monitoring and regulating pharmacies and other healthcare organizations in Canada. These include Health Canada and the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA).

If a website displays logos for these organizations prominently on its website, it is a good sign of a reliable online pharmacy. The logo should also link off to the respective organization.

While these logos alone are not enough to indicate a safe online pharmacy, they are one reliable sign that the website in question is compliant with industry standards.

The .Pharmacy program

A safe online pharmacy will be registered with the .Pharmacy Verified Websites Program. This is operated by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), America’s version of NAPRA. It is designed to help patients identify legitimate online pharmacies and reliable sources of pharmaceutical information.

When you’re considering an online pharmacy, look for the .pharmacy domain in the site’s web address. This shows that the pharmacy is registered with the .Pharmacy program, and is licensed to sell medicine online.

While buying weight loss pills online is convenient and often cheaper than buying them in-store, it is not without its risks. Know the dangers of unlicensed diet pills and inspect your selected online pharmacy rigorously first.

Image by Vidmir Raic from Pixabay

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