PHOENIX - There's a new warning for consumers who buy their prescription drugs online.
Experts say there is a growing number of fake pharmacy websites popping up on the Internet.
Worldwide sales of counterfeit medicine were estimated to exceed $75 billion last year. That’s an increase of 90 percent over the past five years.
Counterfeiters have become experts in producing highly convincing, yet fake, pharmacy websites and drugs that look identical to the real products.
Exposure to fake meds can have dangerous health consequences.
Some of those counterfeit drugs have been found to contain ingredients like rat poison and lead paint, and often don't contain the active pharmaceutical ingredient, according to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.
Carmen Catizone , the executive director of the association, says these counterfeiters are worried about getting your money, not about your health.
“The people behind these meds are extremely clever and they have one motive in mind. They're trying to make money,” he said. “They don't care about patients. They don't care about buying these meds. They just care about making money.”
Catizone also says there are safe pharmacies online.
He says you'll need a legitimate prescription and recommends looking for websites with a "VIPPS" symbol, which stands for Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice. Clicking on that link should direct you to a website containing details about the validity of the website.