5 Things You Need to Know About Buying Medication Online
In a world where everything can be done online, it makes sense that you’re interested in buying medications online. Before you order from any online pharmacy, there are 5 things you should know beforehand.
Did you know that eight in ten Americans shop online? In fact, one in three of us buys something online every week!
With our busy lifestyle these days, we shop online for everything from clothing to groceries to home goods. But what about buying medications online?
This is another popular trend, largely because of the soaring costs of prescription drugs. Buying medications online is a cost-effective solution for many–but is it the right choice for you?
In this post, we’ll consider 10 things you should know before you buy any medications online. Read on to learn more.
1. Is Buying Medications Online Legal?
This is the first and one of the most important questions we need to answer.
The short answer is: Yes. As long as you follow certain rules, ordering your medications online can be a perfectly legal process.
It boils down to three main components:
- Your location
- The location of the pharmacy
- Whether the pharmacy requires a prescription
As you can see, it’s vital to familiarize yourself with both local and federal laws before you place an order with any online pharmacy.
2. Is It Safe?
This ties in with our first question. The answer is: It depends.
If you’re ordering from a fully licensed, reputable American company, then yes. You can be confident that both the legal process and the medications you’re receiving are safe.
However, be aware that there are hundreds (maybe even thousands) of bogus “online pharmacies” that may not be safe to use. In most cases, these sites are set up to scam you out of your money.
At best, they’ll send you placebo pills and pocket your cash. At worst, the medications you order could be harmful to your health.
Here are some clear red flags to watch out for:
- Not requiring a prescription
- Offering to “prescribe” a certain medication for you
- No clear licensing or professional affiliations
- Being located overseas (even Canada or Mexico)
- Offering free “bonus” pills unrelated to your order (i.e., Viagra or Cialis)
Also, remember that legitimate pharmacies will never send you emails advertising their services. If you receive an email from an online pharmacy promising quality drugs at great rates, it’s almost guaranteed to be a scam.
3. What Are Some Potential Dangers?
In addition to legal issues, choosing the wrong online pharmacy could place bogus pills in your medicine cabinet.
Less-than-reputable online pharmacies may send you expired or diluted versions of your prescription. This is not only a waste of money, but you’re placing your health at risk too.
There’s also the chance that the drugs were stored improperly. If allowed to thaw when they need to stay frozen, or exposed to other temperature extremes, the medication could lose its effectiveness.
Another potential problem is that the drugs you order could be mislabeled, counterfeit, or placebo. Scammers will commonly make a pill that’s identical to your current prescription–except it contains no actual medication.
A final caution is the risk of identity theft. By giving your credit card number or other personal information, you’re giving a bogus company the chance to use this sensitive information for unlawful ends.
Medical identity theft (or any other type of identity theft) is nothing to take lightly!
4. So What’s the Right Way to Order Medication?
After reading this far, you may be thinking that ordering medications online isn’t worth the risk.
To be sure, you do need to use a degree of caution and common sense.
Rest assured, though, that there is a very safe and legal way to get the medications you need. You just have to do the research and go through the right channels.
Where should you start? This website is a good example of where and how to begin your research. It compares drugs prices from only fully licensed, legal online pharmacies.
If you already use a major brick-and-mortar pharmacy–like Walgreens, Rite-Aid, or CVS–you should be able to switch over to their online pharmacy. A local pharmacist might also have the choice to order your prescriptions online.
Another option is to ask your doctor or medical provider if they can recommend an online pharmacy to order from. They’ll also be able to tell you whether your medical insurance will cover some or all of the costs.
What if there’s no major chain near you or your doctor can’t name a specific online pharmacy? You could consult your insurance company directly to see if they can recommend a mail-order pharmacy you can use.
Whichever pharmacy you’re considering, you should first double-check that’s it’s fully legal and licensed.
5. What About Foreign Pharmacies?
A legal gray area is ordering your prescription medications from a foreign pharmacy, such as one located in Canada or Mexico.
In general, the FDA has made it illegal to order any drugs from a pharmacy located outside the United States. This includes our neighbors to the north and south.
However, if all three of these conditions are met, then you may be able to order your prescription from overseas:
- The prescription drug is not approved in the US and there’s no equivalent medication available.
- You’re importing a 90-day supply or less.
- The drug is declared at US Customs with proper documentation.
Keep in mind that this set of rules will apply to very few situations. Generally speaking, you’ll need to order your prescriptions from a pharmacy within the United States.
Buying Medications Online: Final Thoughts
Like anything else, there are pros and cons to buying medications online.
When done through an approved and reputable online pharmacy, this option can save you both time and money. With so many bogus sites out there, though, it’s vital to do your research before you place that first order.
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