Online Pharmacies: What You Need to Know

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Buying Controlled Medication Online Has Serious Risks

In the U.S., most prescription drug products with a high potential for addiction and abuse are regulated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, as well as by the FDA. Prescription drugs regulated by the DEA are called controlled substances. Popular controlled substances include Adderall, hydrocodone, Oxycontin, Valium, and Xanax. Whereas regular prescription drugs such as Lipitor, Nexium, and Viagra are only regulated by the FDA but not by the DEA. U.S. pharmacies that sell controlled substances must have a special license issued by the DEA. View a list of controlled substances.

Unfortunately, some “rogue” pharmacies sell controlled substances to consumers without requiring a prescription. Americans with a valid prescription may legally order controlled substances online if they are dispensed from a licensed U.S. pharmacy. Reputable Canadian and other non-U.S. pharmacies will not ship controlled substances to Americans into the U.S. The PharmacyChecker Verification Program is closed to all international online pharmacies that offer to ship controlled substances into the United States.

The Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008 (“Ryan Haight Act”) regulates the practice of online pharmacy at the federal level by making it “unambiguous that it is a per se violation of the [Controlled Substances Act] for a practitioner to issue a prescription for a controlled substance by means of the Internet without having conducted at least one in-person medical evaluation.” (Federal Register/Vol. 74 No. 64, April 6th, 2009, p. 15599).

The PharmacyChecker Verification Program requires, and verifies, that online pharmacies adhere to the requirements of the Ryan Haight Act.

While all websites that sell controlled substances are subject to the Ryan Haight Act’s ban on prescribing controlled substances solely based on a remote medical consultation, only those sites that sell products in the schedule II category, the most highly addictive drugs, must include specific disclosures on their websites and apply for a special modification of their DEA registrations. Learn more about the specific requirements.

For more information on controlled substances visit the Drug Enforcement Agency.