Can I get prescribed antidepressants or anxiety medication online?
Yes, you can get a prescription online for certain antidepressants or anxiety medications. For non-controlled substances like sertraline (Zoloft) or citalopram (Celexa), you can get a prescription via an online visit, an app, or over the phone, provided it is what your doctor thinks is the best course of treatment. Controlled (aka addictive and therefore tightly regulated by the government) medications are a different story.
Teleprescribing Controlled Antidepressants in the Time of Coronavirus
If you were looking for prescriptions over the Internet for drugs like clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), or alprazolam (Xanax), not to mention prescription opioids, such as hydrocodone (Vicodin), then you may have been out of luck -- in pre-pandemic times. The Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act normally prevents doctors from providing prescriptions for controlled substances without an in-person medical exam. That was then.
However, the national state of emergency, put in place in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis, has at least temporarily modified this rule. Under the state of emergency, doctors are permitted to provide prescriptions for controlled substances without an in-person medical examination. Of course, key requirements of a valid prescription still apply, as follows:
- The prescription must be for a legitimate medical purpose
- The telemedicine system used must be audio-visual, conducted in real time, and have two-way interactive communication
- The practitioner must be acting in their usual course of practice and be in accordance with Federal and State law.
The National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations has a thorough rundown of how state laws have adjusted in the state of emergency, which you can find here.
In a press release, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) noted that the state of emergency called for a new set of rules: “Following this announcement [of state of emergency], DEA worked in consultation with HHS [the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services] to allow DEA-registered practitioners to begin issuing prescriptions for controlled substances to patients for whom they have not conducted an in-person medical evaluation.” Given that many states have stay-at-home orders in place, it is reasonable to ask your doctor to provide a prescription without a physical visit. Again, practitioners are still required to evaluate patients using a real-time audio/visual appointment.
Anxiety, Depression, and Coronavirus
If you sense that the world is growing more anxious, you may be right. A report from ExpressScripts, a pharmacy benefit manager, found that prescriptions of anti-anxiety medications grew by 34.1% the week punctuated by March 15th, the week that many states imposed stay-at-home orders. Additionally, 78% of prescriptions for antidepressants, antianxiety, and insomnia medications filled in the week ending March 15th were new scripts. If you yourself are looking for anti-anxiety medication, know that you are not alone: The rest of the world is also seeking help.
Getting a Prescription Online
Before doing anything else, check with your current personal healthcare provider, whether a doctor, nurse or other prescriber. They may have telehealth services of which you were unaware or have upped their games to meet the demands of the coronavirus era.
Otherwise, there are a number of services that allow you to use telemedicine to talk to a doctor. Most hospitals, in fact, have digital operations that you can access through their websites. It will be easiest if you find a local clinic or primary provider and inquire about telemedicine options -- this will ensure you are finding the right resources. This will also help with insurance, as you may need to find a provider who operates in your state.
If you live in a rural area, the CDC has several telehealth resources. They may help with depression and anxiety meds but they are particularly dedicated to chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension.
If you wish to get a prescription for antidepressants, you will have to speak to a licensed prescriber, such as a psychiatrist, medical doctor or nurse practitioner. Keep in mind that therapists and psychologists are unable to prescribe. The American Psychiatric Association has a handy guide for patients preparing for their first telemedicine appointment.
I don’t have great insurance. Which are the cheapest antidepressants?
Prescription drug therapy for depression can be difficult to navigate, as every patient is different and there is sometimes trial and error. It may be uncomfortable for you to switch medications due to cost, especially if your course of treatment has been successful. The key is to work with your doctor or other health care provider to monitor the situation. Many antidepressants have generic alternatives and can be found for much cheaper at a cash price using the U.S. Prescription Discount Card or at international accredited pharmacies.
Comparing Antidepressant Prices
|Drug Strength Quantity||U.S. Average Retail Price||U.S. Prescription Discount Card Price||Lowest Accredited International Pharmacy Price||Greatest Percentage Savings|
|Cymbalta (duloxetine) 60 mg 30 capsules||$312.82||$258.66||$26.70||92%|
|Duloxetine (generic) 60 mg 30 capsules||$121.02||$9.54||$9.90||92%|
|Zoloft (sertraline) 100 mg 30 tablets||$429.66*||$350.84||$12.60||97%|
|Sertraline (generic) 100 mg 30 tablets||Not available||$6.52||$7.50||Not available|
|Celexa (citalopram) 20 mg 30 tablets||Not available||$18.93||$284.63||Not available|
|Citalopram (generic) 20 mg 30 tablets||Not available||$4.00||$7.20||Not available|
|Prozac (fluoxetine) 20 mg 30 capsules||$609.62||$486.03||$12.00||98%|
|Fluoxetine (generic) 20 mg 30 capsules||Not available||$4.00||$8.00||Not available|
Sources: Average U.S. Retail Price calculated based on pricing on GoodRx.com. PharmacyChecker U.S. Discount Card Price based on availability at pharmacies near New Orleans, Louisiana. Lowest Accredited International Pharmacy Price based on prices listed on PharmacyChecker.com.
I got a Xanax prescription online. Can I order from international pharmacies?
Not from an international online pharmacy. Bottom line here is that the most reputable international online pharmacies, like the ones accredited by PharmacyChecker, don't ship controlled substances across borders.
Learn more about safely ordering medication online
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