Online Pharmacies: What You Need to Know

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Benefits and Risks of Using an Online Pharmacy

Using an online pharmacy can save you a great deal of money and provide other benefits. However, there are also potential serious risks of which you need to be aware, but can avoid.

  • Lower prices — Savings of 90% aren’t uncommon when shopping for medicine online. Lower drug prices in other countries, lower generic drug prices in the U.S., lower overhead costs compared to brick-and-mortar pharmacies, and lower price mark-ups by discount pharmacies often result in savings compared to local pharmacy prices. You can quickly shop around for the lowest prices online.
  • Privacy/Anonymity —You may feel more comfortable purchasing your medication online, or simply want to speak to someone about prescriptions and your health online or over the phone rather than in person. However, to prevent the use of your personal information for unauthorized purposes, make sure the pharmacy has an appropriate privacy policy; this is one of the things that checks for you.
  • Convenience —If you find it physically difficult to make it to the pharmacy, live in a remote rural area, or have a busy schedule, online and mail-order pharmacies enable you to avoid travel and can save you time. Many online pharmacies will also remind you when you can order a refill to help you maintain your regimen.
  • Medical information —Some online pharmacies provide useful information about medications and diseases as well as links to medical resources such as universities, government agencies, and health associations.

  • Some do not dispense drugs through licensed pharmacies —Licensed, regulated and properly inspected pharmacies require safe dispensing practices and the oversight of licensed pharmacists. Purchasing drugs from an unlicensed pharmacy can greatly increase your chances of buying counterfeit, substandard, or adulterated products. Some international pharmacies are licensed specifically to import and export prescription medication in a free trade zone area, but not within the domestic jurisdiction: inspects these international pharmacies and only approves those meeting stringent safety requirements.
  • Some online pharmacies don't adequately safeguard your health —By failing to require a prescription, you could take medication that is not appropriate for you. It could make you sick or kill you. approved pharmacies must require prescriptions.
  • Some do not adequately protect your personal and financial information —It's important for pharmacy websites to publish their privacy policy, one that promises not to share your personal information with third parties. Online financial transactions should be secured through adequate use of encryption technology. verifies whether privacy is promised and transmittal of financial information is secured.
  • Some do not give their address and/or telephone number —Pharmacy websites that do not publish their contact information or, even worse, publish false information, are more likely to sell counterfeit, substandard, adulterated products or even not send you anything. verifies contact information and provides it in the profile of each online pharmacy listed on this site. If you have a complaint, question, or concern about an online pharmacy, you want to be sure you can make contact by phone, mail, and email.
  • Additional fees are typically added to the drug price —There is often a shipping fee and there could also be a medical fee, and/or an account set up fee, but it’s not very common. Our price comparison pages show you these fees, so you are better informed about the final price of a prescription order.
  • Prices can change quickly —Some pharmacy sites post lowball prices to attract customers, and then raise them. We make sure prices listed on our site are up to date and accurate as possible.
  • Some may sell medications that can be extremely dangerous, if not taken under medical supervision —In the U.S., these drugs are known as controlled substances, such as hydrocodone, Valium, or Xanax. Don’t order from a website offering to sell you controlled substances without a prescription or to write you a prescription for them based on your responses to an online questionnaire. Other drugs, known as restricted distribution drugs, such as such as Accutane, Mifeprex or Thalomidare, are not controlled substances, but are also dangerous if taken without the appropriate medical supervision. maintains a list of Rogue Pharmacy Websites. By no means a complete list, these sites are known to not follow safe online pharmacy practices.