New HampshireDepartment of JusticeOffice of the Attorney General

News Release

For Immediate Release
April 17, 2015

John W. Garrigan, Attorney
Consumer Protection Bureau
(603) 271-1252

Consumer Alert - Risks of Buying Medicines from Unregistered Online Pharmacies

Attorney General Joseph A. Foster warns New Hampshire residents about the possible dangers of buying medicines from unregistered online pharmacies.  Prescription medicines purchased from unregistered online pharmacies may be substandard or counterfeit and could be harmful to consumers.

Illegitimate online pharmacy websites often advertise significantly discounted name-brand prescription drugs or various “miracle” cures for serious diseases such as cancer or Alzheimer’s.  These websites may appear to be based in Canada, but often the drugs ship from other overseas countries.  These pharmacies operate outside of the federal and state pharmaceutical regulations that ensure the safety of prescription drugs.

Drugs sold by unregistered pharmacies can present the following types of dangers:

- the drugs may be out of date;
- the drugs may contain the wrong active ingredients or no active ingredients at all;
- the drugs may be mislabeled or incorrectly packaged;
- the drugs may be improperly stored or refrigerated creating potential safety issues;
- the drugs may contain the wrong dose;
- the drugs may be contaminated;
- the drugs may be unsafe; or,
- the drugs may lack FDA approval.

The State Board of Pharmacy regulates pharmacy practices in NH. Pharmacy Board regulations require non-resident internet and mail-order pharmacies that deliver medications to NH consumers to register with the State each year. There are currently 652 out-of-state pharmacies registered in NH. The current roster of registered non-resident mail-order pharmacies can be found at 

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy certifies online pharmacies as Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site™ (“VIPPS”).  To be “VIPPS” certified, online pharmacies must be state licensed and must meet additional standards of privacy and security. If shopping for medicines online, consumers should always look for the following seal:

Consumers should be careful to avoid sites that:

- do not require a prescription;
- do not have a licensed pharmacist available to answer questions;
- offer deep discounts or cheap prices that seem too good to be true;
- send “spam” advertisements for medications;
- do not list a physical business address or phone number;
- are based outside of the United States; or,
- are not registered with the State of New Hampshire.

Consumers should look for the following to identify a safe online pharmacy.  The site:

- always require a doctor’s prescription
- lists physical address and telephone number in the United States
- offers a pharmacist to answer questions,
- displays the “VIPPS” accreditation seal, and
- is registered with the New Hampshire State Board of Pharmacy.

For more information on the dangers of purchasing drugs online, consumers should visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website at

Consumers can report suspected criminal conduct related to fraudulent or counterfeit drugs to the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations at:

The NH State Board of Pharmacy can be contacted by phone at (603) 271-2350 or by going to

New Hampshire consumers can also call the Attorney General's consumer information line at 1-888-468-4454 or file a formal complaint at:

New Hampshire Department of Justice
1 Granite Place South | Concord, NH | 03301
Telephone: 603-271-3658