Online pharmacies – Be sure, be safe

Lower prices and delivery without leaving home, what could be better? Online pharmacies are a benefit to many who have limited mobility and to those who want to save money.

But have you heard about the fake online pharmacies? The National Association of the Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) released a report in July 2013 showing that 97% of the more than 10,500 online pharmacies are NOT in compliance with US pharmacy laws.

Since anyone with a credit card can set up a website, how can you be sure that the medicine you receive is what you ordered, that it is the right formulation and the correct strength? Some unethical online pharmacies sell expired pills, which may not work, or contaminated pills, which can make you sick in all new ways.

Side effects of the medicines you are prescribed are an issue for many people. But taking pills from an unknown source, even if they look like your regular pills, could mean you are taking something entirely different. And if you have a side effect from the online drug, how do you even tell your doctor what you took?

With some common sense and a couple of clicks, you should be able to determine if an online pharmacy deserves your business. (The following edited information is taken from the FDA website.)

These guidelines will help you know which online pharmacies to avoid:

  • First and foremost, if the online pharmacy doesn’t require a current prescription from your doctor, delete that address from your computer. There is no reason that a licensed pharmacy would ever dispense drugs without a prescription.
  • If the discounts they offer sound too good to be true, they probably are.
  • If they are based outside of the US, or don’t have a physical address, they may not be monitored sufficiently.

Consider those online pharmacies that:

  • Have a pharmacist available to answer your questions.
  • Do require a prescription.
  • Have a physical address in the US.

Most importantly, check here to see if the online pharmacy is licensed in the US. Pharmacies are licensed by the state, so check the physical location that the online pharmacy website gives you and check that state, or your own state, to make sure the site has a license.

Another great source to find an on-line pharmacy is through NABP’s VIPP site (Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice). Great news! They even have a list for veterinary meds!

You can save money and trips to the pharmacy by ordering your medicines online, but isn’t it more important to keep yourself and your family safe?

Suzanne B. Robotti

Suzanne Robotti founded MedShadow Foundation in 2012. Learn more about Su and her mission.

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