Did you know that some health products sold in an online pharmacy or other health websites may appear legitimate and safe, but may potentially be dangerous for your health?

It is important to know how to spot risky websites and products if you are buying any health products—including drugs, natural health products, and medical devices—online.

Health Canada is part of Operation Pangea XVI—an international effort led by INTERPOL to disrupt the online sale of counterfeit and other illegal health products around the world. The goal is to is remind consumers to be careful when buying health products over the Internet.

Unauthorized health products have not been assessed by Health Canada for safety, efficacy, and quality and as a result, can pose serious risks to your health.

For example, they may be fake, badly stored, mislabeled, expired, or subject to recalls.

Unauthorized drugs or natural health products may have no active ingredients, the wrong ingredients, or dangerous additives such as prescription drugs not listed on the label.

Unlicensed medical devices might be low quality, may not work, or may be unsafe.

Protect Yourself Online

  1. Read the information Health Canada has posted on the dangers of buying drugsnatural health products or medical devices over the Internet.
  2. Look for health products that have been authorized by Health Canada. Authorized health products have an eight-digit Drug Identification Number (DIN), Natural Product Number (NPN) or Homeopathic Medicine Number (DIN-HM).
  3. Check whether products have been authorized for sale by searching Health Canada’s Drug Product DatabaseLicensed Natural Health Products Database or Medical Devices Active Licence Listing (MDALL).
  4. Avoid buying health products from questionable or untrustworthy websites.
  5. Find out more about choosing a safe online pharmacy. If you have questions about whether an online pharmacy is legitimate, contact the pharmacy regulatory authority in your province or territory.

Talk to a health care professional, such as a doctor or pharmacist, if you have questions or concerns about a health care product.

Check Health Canada’s Recalls and Safety Alerts database for advisories on illegal health products that have been found on the Canadian market. Health Canada maintains lists of unauthorized sexual enhancement productsskin lightening and other skin treatmentsworkout supplements and poppers that consumers can check regularly for updates.

To help other consumers, Health Canada recommends that you report adverse events or complaints involving drugs, natural health products or medical devices, including illegal health products.

Stay safe on your healthcare journey with these important tips and share with anyone you feel could use them.

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