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“If the low prices seem too good to be true, they probably are,’ Hamburg said.

The FDA is collaborating with several other federal agencies and departments and even Interpol in the campaign, Hamburg said, and it has asked medical and pharmaceutical industry groups to join in.

It’s also reaching out to doctors, pharmacists and medical facilities to spread the word. They’ll get access to materials they can download, from patient fact sheets and discussion guides to sample blog items and web banners for a practice’s own website. There’s also a list of tips to help doctors determine if a patient may be buying medicine online.

The agency will do a follow-up survey to see if the campaign’s message is reaching the public.

“What’s truly important to us is that consumers know how to look for an online pharmacy that’s legitimate and safe,” Hamburg said.

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Linda A. Johnson can be followed http://twitter.com/LindaJ_onPharma