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Online pharmacies concerning local health officials

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Amarillo, TX- Buying prescription medications may help your wallet, but could end up hurting your health.

With the high cost of medications and insurance co-pays more people are turning to the web to find a cheaper way to deal with illnesses but the Federal Drug Administration is warning not all online pharmacies are safe.

"Some countries, there are people who are producing some of their own drugs or medications and they can be contaminated with arsenic, rat poison, and a number of different chemicals that they have just included in there," said Dr. Jeanie Jaramillo with the Texas Tech Pharmacy School.

Along with the risk of being contaminated with chemicals that could potentially kill you, Doctor Jaramillo says the medicines may not have all of the active ingredients needed to help you.

"It could just be anything from not having enough therapeutic effect to not working at all. Many drugs we need a constant level in our bloodstream and if we are obtaining a medication that is less than what we need that level is going to be too low or it could be too high," added Jaramillo.

Robin Johnson, a local pharmacist says the problem of counterfeit medications and fake pharmacies seems to be growing and Jaramillo adds there is not a quick fix.

"It is important to use a reputable pharmacy, when I first graduated from college years ago, it was unheard of for the FDA to be pursuing a counterfeit drug case, now there are thousands, they can't keep up with all of them," said Johnson with King's Compounding Pharmacy,

"It is easy for these pharmacies to be shut down but then to crop back up again, they have a new name, they have a new web address, that is real easy for them to do without becoming on the radar of law enforcement, so they close down one website but they end up with a new name somewhere else," said Jaramillo.

Jaramillo says there are ways to make sure you are using a legitimate online pharmacy, by asking for a permanent address, phone number and even their return policy.

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