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MARKETPLACE:  Auto | Jobs | Personals | Yellow Pages  September 19, 2004
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GAO: Drugs Easy to Get on the Net
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The investigative arm of Congress has found that drugs, including narcotic-based painkillers, are easy to buy from Internet-based pharmacies, and that the practice could harm some customers.

The General Accounting Office (GAO) also found, however, that Web pharmacies in Canada provided safe medications and had much tighter restrictions than most based in the United States, according to a new report it issued Thursday.

GAO investigators obtained 68 samples of 11 different drugs from pharmacies in Canada, the United States, and several foreign countries. All the Canadian pharmacies required a prescription, while 24 of 29 U.S. pharmacies and all other foreign ones either required none or provided a prescription based on their own questionnaires.

The drugs themselves weren't problematic when gotten in the United States or Canada. However, many samples from other foreign pharmacies came with no patient instructions or warnings, were shipped at room temperature when they ought to have been insulated, or weren't approved for sale in the United States. Some others appear to have been phony, according to the GAO report.

Fourteen of the 68 pharmacies -- one sample was obtained from each -- turned out to have been under investigation for regulatory problems, such as shipping counterfeit drugs, the report found.


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