The internet has drastically changed the way we work, live, and shop. When it comes to prescription drugs, the internet has given us ways to easily compare prices and even buy our medications without the effort of leaving our house. In fact, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are about 400 or more US and foreign companies that sell prescription drugs online.
These online pharmacies offer us a convenient way to purchase our medications. However, are they legit? Is it safe to order through an online pharmacy?
Benefits of Buying Your Prescription Drugs Online
An online pharmacy can provide you with a private and easy way to purchase over-the-counter and prescription drugs. It even often comes at a more affordable price. You can also use discount coupons to lower your medications’ costs in an online pharmacy in some cases. However, you will need to search for the website that offers these coupons.
Online pharmacies are a great advantage if you are disabled, don’t drive, homebound, frail, or live in a rural area. This is because they deliver your orders to your doorstep. Also, if you feel embarrassed in ordering your medications, online pharmacies can allow you to be anonymous.
For example, one of the most frequently ordered online medications is Viagra. This is used for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Most patients order it online because they feel embarrassed about buying it in person, and the online pharmacies offer anonymity.
Like the local pharmacy in your neighborhood, online pharmacies can also provide you with consultations. They tend to have a licensed pharmacist who can help you with your queries from your home’s privacy and comfort. Moreover, online pharmacies can also give you printable online product information and links to other information sources that discuss your health condition and medications.
Dangers of Buying Your Prescription Drugs Online
There are many legitimate online pharmacies. Most of the time, you can even use their services with the same trust and confidence you have in your local pharmacy. However, it is vital to know that there are also disreputable or fraudulent online pharmacies on the internet.
These fraudulent online pharmacies might not follow proper procedures for filling your prescriptions, might sell you prescription drugs illegally, and might not protect your personal information. Some of the websites that sell prescription drugs:
- Will sell you medications even if you don’t have a prescription (this is an unlawful act);
- Are not licensed or are not pharmacies at all;
- Might require you to answer a questionnaire and use the information you entered to diagnose your health problem. Without your doctor’s knowledge, the fraudulent online pharmacy might give you a wrong diagnosis and sell you medications that are not right for your real health condition;
- Do not protect your personal information like your address or credit card number;
- Do not provide you with the proper medication information or provide you with inaccurate or misleading information.
Furthermore, some prescription drugs sold online by illegitimate online pharmacies:
- Are not FDA approved (which means it has not been checked for effectiveness and safety);
- Are fake;
- Are too weak, which might not treat your current health problem as expected;
- Are too strong, which might cause unwanted side effects;
- Have already expired;
- Have not been properly manufactured;
- Are not labeled, shipped, or stored the right way;
- Might contain ingredients that are dangerous to your health;
- Are not safe to take with other health products or medications you are currently using.
Tips on Buying Your Meds Through an Online Pharmacy Safely
The following are some tips you can use for you to become a wise internet shopper:
Beware of Super-bargains
If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. An extremely low price may mean there is a catch. For example, if you most likely pay $100 for your prescription drug and you can get it for only $10 at an online pharmacy, be careful. This might mean the medication is sold outside our country and not FDA approved.
Check for VIPPS Seal
When you browse through an online pharmacy’s website, look for the VIPPS seal. VIPPS stands for Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites. If there is one, it means it is approved by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP).
Search for “Dot Pharmacy” In The Address
If an online pharmacy’s web address contains a “.pharmacy” at the end, it means it is okay to buy your medications there. This is because only online pharmacies that follow the law can use that kind of domain.
Make Sure The Online Pharmacy Is Licensed and Based in the US
It would help if you made sure the online pharmacy is based in this country. It would be best if you also ascertained that it is registered or licensed. You can use the NABP’s website to find out.
Check for Privacy Policies
The online pharmacy should present its privacy and security settings. They should be easy to look for and understand. Moreover, the website should not sell your personal information for safety purposes.
Keep Your Personal Information to Yourself
Unless you are sure the online pharmacy you chose is safe, it would be best not to share your:
- Personal medical history;
- Credit card informations;
- Social Security Number
Buying through a reputable online pharmacy has many advantages. However, there are many fraudulent and illegitimate online pharmacies out there. Hence, it is best to be careful before you click that “buy” button.