The internet has been a great ally to the hair loss sufferer in the past several years. Caught off guard with a widespread genetically-determined condition with a nearly socially-crippling stigma, guys with thinning hair have been able to go onlline to exchange information, ask advice, and voice their opinions in totally anonymity. The Hair Restoration Research Forums have provided a safe harbor for hair loss sufferers for years.
However, the internet is not without its dangers. Thousands of online prescription drug distributors dot the web with flashy sites that tout low prices for generic Propecia, Proscar, Avodart, and Rogaine. With prices of prescription drugs escalating in the U.S., the U.K. and everywhere else, it’s very tempting to buy from these merchants. But how is the consumer supposed to know that the drugs he is getting legitimate?
Many generic forms of finasteride and dutasteride (medicinal names for Propecia and Avodart, respectively) are manufactured in India by pharmaceutical drug companies Cipla and Dr. Reddy’s. Both are reputable medication giants that are approved in one form or another by the FDA for the manufacture of prescription grade and over-the-counter medication. There is no question that the products generated by these two companies are of superior quality.
But online distributors are an entirely different entity. Rogue online distributors have been importing counterfeit prescription medications into the U.S. and U.K. in record numbers. A recent investigation performed by Dateline NBC reports that the amount of fake drugs is skyrocketing, especially when purchased online. The most reported cases of fake medications involve Viagra and AIDS drugs, but the scams are not limited to that. Virtually every medication that is being prescribed in affluent countries is being counterfeited and shipped there from unscrupulous online vendors. And even though there are reports of fake drugs showing up in U.S. and U.K pharmacies, the likelihood of getting counterfeit drugs from a “brick-and-mortar” pharmacy as opposed to from an online vendor is miniscule, at best.
The criminals behind these distributors are not run-of-the-mill thugs pressing capsules in their basement hideout. They are technically-sophisticated criminals that possess the means to manufacture and distribute counterfeit medication so genuine in appearance that an experienced pharmacist would not know the difference, let alone the average user comparing a pill in his hand to a photo on the net.
There is good news, however. Merck announced recently that it is extending the rights to manufacture a generic form of the prescription BPH-fighting Proscar to Dr. Reddy’s labs. The patent on Proscar recently expired. Dr. Reddy’s has been manufacturing a safe alternative to Proscar for years. Many hair loss suffers already use Merck-brand Proscar to save money as opposed to using the FDA-approved Propecia.
However, the online threat will still be there when ordering. How is the user to know that what he is receiving and ingesting genuine? The harsh truth is that he doesn’t. The absolute safest way to get your finasteride cheaply is to have a physician prescribe you Proscar and buy it from your local pharmacy. Before I started taking Avodart, I did just this and paid about USD $34 for 40 pills. I currently take Glaxo-Smith Kline Avodart, which is almost always much more expensive than Propecia. I found that a $50 yearly membership at Costco cut my monthly cost from over $120 to about $70.
I am the last person to be speaking out against technology and all its benefits, but there is no disputing that criminals have found a way to exploit a need for quality prescription drugs. Additionally, just because a prescription drug distributor has an online presence doesn’t mean that their products are not legitimate. I am confidant that for every crook running a medicine scam, there is a legitimate businessman running a legitimate online pharmacy. However, I find it impossible to justify the risk of ingesting a substance that is very possibly dangerous just to save a few bucks a month. Furthermore, how much money is one really saving if the prescription drug is legit, but through international shipping and handling in sweltering warehouses, the potency is diminished? It doesn’t seem to be such a sound decision, after all.