The Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP) and the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP) released a public service announcement this week that will run in New York City’s Times Square through January 2015. The 520 square foot advertisement warns consumers to be cautious when purchasing prescription drugs online because it could be “gambling with your life.” NACDS is a founding member of ASOP.

According to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacies (NABP), 97 percent of online pharmacies are illegal, which means they do not comply with U.S. pharmacy laws and standards. However, it is virtually impossible for consumers to identify the difference between a fake and a legitimate pharmacy website.

The Internet is the largest source of falsified medicines. Consumers, caregivers and even doctors are being deceived by illegal online drug sellers who pose as legitimate pharmacies. These rogue sites sell falsified versions of life-saving medications, including those treating high cholesterol, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and cancer, often without the required prescription. According to the World Health Organization, in over 50 percent of cases, medicines purchased over the Internet from illegal sites that conceal their physical address have been found to be counterfeit.

For more information about where to safely buy prescription drugs online, or to verify your pharmacy, visit the ASOP website.