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Safety Tips for Mail-Order and Online Pharmacies

5 Things to Remember When Buying Medication Online

We have safely arrived in the age of convenience. Whether we are looking for our weekly groceries, the perfect gift for a friend, or the ability to customize pretty much anything, we know where to find it: the internet.

Medicines are no different. There are hundreds upon thousands of places selling medications online and over the phone. The validity of these places, however, is much less prevalent. The most important characteristics of prescription medications is safety and accuracy. So, when taking your prescription to the digital world, you can never be too cautious.

Here are our top five tips for making sure the pharmacy you choose and the drugs you receive are exactly what the doctor ordered.

1. Check out the website.

The quickest and easiest way to tell if an online or mail order pharmacy is legitimate is to explore the website itself. If it seems tragically unprofessional, look elsewhere. But these three things are signs that you are in the right place:

  • The Web Address. Sometimes you can verify a safe pharmacy even before you click on it—through the web address. If the company has a dot pharmacy domain, you can instantly breathe easier. Businesses with .pharmacy domains have gone through an application process that proves they are in compliance with United States pharmacy lawsand only offer Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs. For example, a business located at “BestPriceMeds.pharmacy” has been approved as a safe source for medications online. A business located at “BestPriceMeds.net,” however, could potentially be selling foreign or unregulated medications.VIPPS
  • The VIPPS Seal. When browsing the web for easy access to medications, be sure to keep your eyes open for a blue seal marked “VIPPS.” This seal is a symbol of approval from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. VIPPS, an acronym for Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites, certifies businesses who practice within the guidelines of the states to which they provide medications. The NABP assures customers that VIPPS approved pharmacies comply with the licensing and survey requirements of the state.
  • Privacy Policies. The vast majority of people taking prescription medications want to keep this private. Not only would they not want their prescriptions being shared or sold, but their personal information associated with purchasing their medication should be secure also. Don’t share your medical history, social security number, or payment information if you don’t 100% trust the website you’re interacting with. Check for the policies of the pharmacy on their website. If the privacy policy or terms and conditions are not readily available and easy to read and comprehend, something fishy could be going on. Make sure your information will not be shared with anyone else.

2. Check out their reputation.

The second easiest way to figure out if the pharmacy you are interested in purchasing from is safe is to search for it online. Read recommendations and reviews. Check ratings and compare them to competitors. If people are negatively reviewing the website on other sites, this is a huge red flag. Although one or two poor reviews could be rationalized, or even anomalies, a plethora of them mean the pharmacy in question is not trustworthy or does not value customer service.

3. Double check their pharmaceutical license.

If shopping from the United States, it is important that you buy your medications from a domestic, mail order pharmacy. The Food and Drug Association has strict rules and regulations regarding drugs and with good reason. Many licensed online pharmacies include their location and license on their website. This is a positive sign. However, don’t take their word for it. Check the NABP website to make sure they are registered in your state. Additionally, each and every online pharmacy should have an individual pharmacist that you can communicate with. A pharmacist is a licensed professional and will be able to help you with information and advice, as well as answer any questions you may have.

4. Make sure they request a prescription.

If the mail order or online pharmacy does not request their customers provide the prescription from a doctor, not only could you get the wrong medications, but they may not be trustworthy. Your local brick-and-mortar pharmacy would ask for your signed prescription, and so should your electronic one. If the business would sell prescription medicines to people without prescriptions, the quality and accuracy of the product could be significantly off.

5. Remember it really can be too good to be true.

If your medication is discounted so highly that you can’t believe it, trust your instincts. A $200 bottle for $20 should raise a warning flag that the medication could be off. In some cases it may be a generic version, but in others, it could be a different drug all together. It’s always good to find the best deal you can, and it’s easy to do online, but it’s also easy to be taken advantage of. Check all of your boxes before placing an order.

Don’t Be Taken Advantage Of

Shopping online has its many perks, but sometimes things don’t work out for the best. If you fall into a trap and accidentally place an order with an untrustworthy online pharmacy, eConsumer Services® has got your back. Contact us today with your concerns regarding an online or mail order pharmacy and we will take it from there. As a mediator between you and the merchant, you will have nothing more to worry about.

Image courtesy of NABP.