NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), only about 3-percent of online pharmacies are actually obeying the law.

The FDA is now warning consumers that the vast majority of internet pharmacies are selling drugs that could harm them.

Dr. Ilisa Bernstein, the FDA Director of Compliance, said the first line of defense starts with the consumer.

“What’s important is that the consumers know their online pharmacy,” she said. “Know the risks. Know the signs of a fraudulent, illegal pharmacy and know how to find a safe, legal online pharmacy.”

FDA officials say while the drugs received may look authentic, they could be counterfeit, contaminated, expired or unsafe in some other way.

Dr. Bernstein said consumers should ask themselves basic questions about the requirements and services that the website provides.

“Does it require a valid prescription from your doctor? Is it licensed and located in the United States? Is there a licensed pharmacist available for consultation?”

The FDA has launched a new website to help consumers do their homework to figure out which online pharmacies are safe.

The FDA website and national campaign is called Be Safe Rx. The website details the risks of buying drugs online, lists some of the differences between a fraudulent or authentic website and features a tool to check individual online pharmacies.

Bernstein advised, “If they’re located outside the United States or if they ship anywhere around the world — another red flag that these are fraudulent, rouge, illegal pharmacies.”

Officials warn that in addition to losing money, consuming counterfeit or substandard medicines could keep you from getting better, make you sick or worse.

In the quest for looking for savings and convenience, remember that if prices or discounts seem to good to be true they very well could be.

Check out the Be Safe Rx website.

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