The Bottom Line: Foreign Pharmacies
Updated: Wednesday, March 20 2013, 01:55 PM EDT
ALBANY -- Pricy prescription medications can lead people to shop around, but sometimes trying to cut down on costs can also mean putting your health in jeopardy.
Nina Ossana tells the story of her sister.
"[She] was a police officer and she had a very stressful job and she was taking prescription drugs."
Nina found her sister was taking large quantities of the drugs, obtained online and over the phone. Her sister took her own life and Nina was determined to find out why.
"In the weeks after she died, I got 100,000 doses of these drugs. There is no reason for anyone to have that many doses of any drugs."
She went on to explain, "I had her cell phone and she would get 33 calls a day. The vendors would call and say 'I just sent your prescriptions, I just sent your drugs to you - can I send you more?'"
Nina discovered her sister was buying drugs from other countries.
"When you aren't buying it from a reputable source, I wondered, was there something else in the drugs? Was it really what it was supposed to be, were there impurities, did it cause her to commit suicide?"
Postal inspectors say buying drugs outside the United States is, in fact, dangerous.
US Postal inspector Quiana Valentine says, "Take the FDA approved drugs obtained from your doctor."
Telemarketers lure customers with cheaper prices and convenience. The elderly, poor or those with an addiction are often easy prey.
The Bottom Line - know what you're buying, and only buy prescription drugs from sources you know you can trust.
"Do not trust your health to these overseas vendors, we don't know the exactly what is in the pills, the potency, how they will interact with other drugs you're currently taking." Valentine warns.
Postal inspectors and agents from the U.S. Drug Enforement Administration are working together to trace the origin of the packages Nina's sister received.
"What I want is for no other family and friend to have to go through what I went through with my sister."