Online Pharmacies: What You Need to Know

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Rogue Online Pharmacies

A rogue online pharmacy is a website that will intentionally sell you fake, adulterated, unlicensed, or even genuine and regulated medication but without safeguards in place to protect your health. If you take a prescription medication that is not right for you it could make you sick or kill you: that’s why having a real prescription is critical. Some rogue pharmacy sites offer inadequate online medical consultations, sometimes for a fee, towards the issuance of a prescription that is allegedly written by a real doctor. These should not be confused with a small number of safe “remote consultation” websites (see Types of Online Pharmacies. For rogue pharmacies, the ""consultation"" is just window dressing to give the appearance of safety.

Here’s a convenient check list of rogue online pharmacy behavior. Rogue online pharmacies:

  1. Don't require a prescription
  2. Don't publish verifiable and useful contact information
  3. Don't fill orders through licensed pharmacies
  4. Don't sell real medications, or have a licensed pharmacist dispensing the prescription order
  5. Don't protect your personal and financial information

To help avoid rogue online pharmacies, stick with those credentialed by or other acceptable credentialing programs such as the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) program, run by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. Because some of the best prices on medication are outside the U.S., credentials both U.S. and foreign online pharmacies -- as opposed to the VIPPS program which only verifies U.S. pharmacies. An important study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that sticking with sites credentialed by always yielded genuine medication, while this was not the case with non-credentialed pharmacies.

To learn more, see How to Avoid Rogue Online Pharmacies.