Buying Medications Online
Mike Parker

Have you ever considered buying your prescription and over-the-counter medications from an online pharmacy? A lot of people do, and for a couple of very important reasons: cost and convenience. According to it is possible to find prices online that are up to 90% below what you’ll find at your local pharmacy. The Internet makes comparison shopping a no-brainer, and you can shop in your PJs and have your medications delivered to your door in just a few days.

What’s not to love?

Well, there may be a few things to consider before taking advantage of the price break and convenience of online medicine shops. First, always check to make sure the place you are ordering from is legit. According to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), the folks who represent the state boards of pharmacy that are responsible for licensing pharmacies, only 3 percent of online websites reviewed appear to meet state and federal pharmacy laws. Pharmacies that are located outside the U.S., or are located in the U.S. but are not licensed by a state agency should raise a red flag. If the company allows you to buy prescription medications without requiring a prescription, it’s probably not a legit pharmacy. And of course, like your grandma always told you, if something looks too good to be true, like an ultra-low price, it’s probably not legit.

While there are plenty of legitimate online pharmacies, there are others who prey on the unwary by delivering medications that are counterfeit, contaminated, contain the too much or too little of the active ingredient, the wrong active ingredient, or no active ingredient at all. They may be contaminated with harmful substances, or they could be legitimate medications that are simply past their expiration dates.

To stay safe while shopping for medications online, the Federal Drug Administration recommends FDA only shopping for prescription medicines at online pharmacies that:

  • Require a valid prescription from a doctor or other authorized healthcare professional.
  • Are licensed by the state board of pharmacy (or equivalent state agency) where the patient is located.
  • Are located in the United States and provide a physical street address.
  • Have a licensed pharmacist available for consultation.

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