After ordering skin cream on eBay, Nancy White, an IT manager based in Tennessee, eagerly awaited the arrival of her new purchase. Her enthusiasm turned to dismay, however, when she instead received a prescription medication, a potentially harmful one at that, in her mailbox. Now, in an exclusive ABC News report, White says she has filed hundreds of reports with eBay customer service about pharmaceutical drugs being sold illegally on the site, but the online consumer-to-consumer sales company’s response has been inadequate, at best.

“They always assure me that this should not happen again and it will not happen again, but I’ve seen the same vendor relist the same drug over and over,” she told ABC. In fact, eBay has almost always responded quickly enough by removing the offending listings, but in many cases the same item — often reposted by the same seller — appears on the site within hours… and without censure from eBay.

“Listings that violate our policy are removed promptly after coming to our attention,” a company spokesman told ABC, adding “eBay does not allow the listing of any substance that requires a prescription from a licensed medical practitioner or must be administered by a licensed practitioner.” The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for oversight of prescription drug sales, did not respond to ABC news, while a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration did respond, saying his agency is serious about stopping illegal drug trafficking activity online.

Despite what eBay says and the government claims, prescription drugs continue to be sold illegally online, according to White, who notes one seller relisted the cosmetic cream, retin-A, 18 separate times, while the anti-seizure medication, Tegretol, has appeared on eBay more than once, in fact, several times by her count. Worse, eBay is not the only major website with prescription drugs for sale; Dr. Ford Vox, of the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, said his wife ordered an acne medication on Amazon and received a prescription-only antibiotic, clindamycin.

Real Dangers to Buying Drugs Online

What’s the big deal, you ask: if you’re familiar with a product, does it matter where or how you get it? Well, yes, it does matter since counterfeit drugs, nearly identical in their packaging and appearance to the originals, are routinely sold online. Pharmaceutical drugs purchased with a simple point-and-click have been found to contain the wrong active ingredient, too much or too little of the active ingredient, or dangerous ingredients. Worse, some drugs found on the web are completely unapproved.

In short, you may be putting your health and life at risk by purchasing drugs online from any source other than a legal Internet pharmacy approved under the National Association of Boards of Pharmacies’ VIPPS program. Find a list of accredited online prescription drug websites here.