Recently, I’ve been inundated with offers to purchase N95 masks and PPE, as well as with offers to order COVID test-kits. Most of these offers come through my firm’s website and I suspect it is because my website has “pharmacy” written all over it. After reading the APhA’s article on new scams targeting pharmacies, I realized that a reason why I receive these offers is because I work with pharmacies. Apparently, pharmacies are dealing with more scams during the COVID-outbreak due to their unique position to distribute needed medications, offer treatment, and advise on prevention. Therefore, many scammers or substandard companies (e.g. unlicensed wholesalers) target pharmacies hoping that their offers could not be resisted due to the desperate situation many communities experience.
Below is the summary of the APhA’s article regarding scams targeting pharmacies. The article explains red flags and prevention techniques. First of all, potential scammers may reach your pharmacy offering to sell:
- Fake or substandard N95 masks
- COVID-19 vaccine
- COVID test-kits
- Drugs preventing or treating COVID infections
Note: I would like to add offers to assist with small business loans.
The APhA reminds of the following red flags to spot a scam:
- An offer that is too good to be true;
- Offering products that are in short supply;
- Offers from unknown sources;
- Requesting personal or confidential information.
To verify whether you received a legitimate offer, verify if a product offered for sale is FDA approved ( you can check FDA’s approval for drugs here).
To avoid pharmacy scams, discuss the red flags with your staff and explain reporting requirements (to FDA, FTC, and FCC).
Remember, you can spot most of scams by paying close attention to the way the offer is made (professionalism, price, method of communication, sense of urgency, etc.). Always verify the source and keep in mind state and federal laws/regulations that come into play (such as HIPAA, wholesale licensed distribution, etc.).