If Charlie had known how prolific fake pills on social media were, would he still be alive? It’s a haunting question for his parents, Ed and Mary Ternan, because the answer is probably “yes.”  

Had he known, maybe he wouldn’t have taken a single pill last year, bought on social media, to relieve his back pain. He thought it was a painkiller, but instead it was a counterfeit filled with fentanyl. Charlie was dead within 15 minutes. 

Truth is, many people don’t know how risky it is to buy medicine online without a prescription. That’s why Ed and Mary created Song for Charlie, a non-profit dedicated to educating young people about what their son didn’t know: prescription medicine bought online can be fake and sometimes contains fentanyl, a tiny amount of which can kill.

The Ternans’ story resonated with us. We’ve been advocating for safe online pharmacy since 1999, when we established the Digital Pharmacy program. In the years since, it’s become even more vital to only order prescription drugs and medicine online from licensed and verified pharmacies. And when it comes to buying from social media sites – just don’t.  

More than 93,000 people died of a drug overdose in 2020, partly because of an increased supply of illegal fentanyl, the CDC reported. It originates from international drug cartels, winding a long path to local dealers who take to SnapChat, Instagram, and other social platforms to sell to unsuspecting victims.  

How You Can Help Protect Patients

We’ve recently expanded the resources found on our consumer website to increase awareness of these dangers and provide information about how to order medication from a safe, verified online pharmacy. We hope you’ll share some posts from our social media kit and the PSA we created with Song for Charlie. Please also share a link to our safe sites search tool, which lists pharmacies verified through our Digital Pharmacy Accreditation and .Pharmacy Verified Websites programs.

Education is key to preventing more senseless deaths. Help us spread the word. It doesn’t have to be this way.