Beware fake meds on the Web

King Features SyndicateJuly 4, 2014 

Jonah Hill (number-cruncher Donnie Azoff in "The Wolf of Wall Street") says the white powder the actors snorted in that film was really vitamin D. While that sounds pretty benign, Hill reports he got severe bronchitis from inhaling the stuff. Fake drugs can be dangerous for any unsuspecting consumer, and they're big business.

For example, British authorities recently arrested 237 folks storing $31 million of phony "meds" scheduled for distribution from 10,600 websites worldwide (72 percent of the fakes were from India; 11 percent from China). In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration blocks sale of such products when they can: This month they banned a "weight loss" med, B-Perfect, containing a pulled-off-the-market, controlled substance called sibutramine and a known carcinogen, phenolphthalein. They also yanked erectile dysfunction meds (with names like Full Throttle and Hard Up) that contained impure toxins, along with the active ingredients found in Viagra and Cialis. If guys take these undeclared and unidentified ingredients with other meds, such as nitroglycerine, they can lower blood pressure to dangerous levels.

But online, it's not just "alternative" meds that are dangerous. Recently the FDA shut down 1,677 illegal pharmacy websites that sold fake "brand name" and "FDA-approved" meds that were neither. Check www.FDA.gov to identify dangerous supplements in "miraculous" weight loss, muscle building and sexual enhancement products.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com.

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