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How to Buy Medicines Safely From an Online Pharmacy

How to Buy Medicines Safely From an Online Pharmacy

Have you ever considered using a website other than a traditional pharmacy to purchase your medication? It may appear easy and even inexpensive at first, but you and your family need to be very careful to avoid any harm to your health with placebo. Online pharmacies usually provide a number of benefits to customers, including security, privacy, cost effectiveness, and ease of use when buying medications. But you can’t put trust in every website to buy prescription medication online.

The FDA has issued a warning about the widespread use of dangerous practices by certain online pharmacies that sell prescription pharmaceuticals at rock-bottom prices and frequently do not even require a prescription. There is a risk that these online pharmacies sell medications that have not been approved, are counterfeit, or pose health risks to customers.

In order to pass themselves off as legitimate or to claim that their medications come from countries with strict safety regulations, many of these questionable online pharmacies build false websites. And yet, it’s possible that the drugs they offer are manufactured in facilities lacking adequate safety measures. The medications here may not be authentic, may have passed their expiration date, or pose additional health risks to you and your loved ones.

So, how does one go about verifying the legitimacy of an online pharmacy? To help you in making safe decisions when purchasing prescription medications online, the FDA has created the BeSafeRx page, which contains resources and tools.

Red Flags Of Questionable Online Pharmacy 

Be cautious of online pharmacies that:

  • Necessitate no medical professional’s prescription.
  • can’t legally sell their products in the United States or in your state since they lack the necessary licensing.
  • Do not have a certified pharmacist on staff to address inquiries.
  • Send medication that doesn’t seem as it should, comes in a damaged or broken container, has labels written in a language other than English, has passed its expiration date, or is otherwise not what you would expect from a typical pharmacy.
  • Present bargain rates that defy logic.
  • Get money out of you for something you never even got.
  • Disregard the obvious need to protect your private and financial data.
  • Share your data with third parties.

 Why Do Some Online Pharmacies Sell Potentially Harmful Medications? 

Because these fake online pharmacies have any of the following motives behind their actions:

  • Low production costs and strong demand make counterfeit or unregulated drug sales profitable.
  • High prescription drug prices can push consumers to seek cheaper alternatives, making them prey for illegal marketers.
  • Online sellers may reach a global market, expanding their consumer base and earnings.
  • Some patients are desperate for medication they cannot afford or get, putting them open to abuse.
  • Fake pharmacies utilize clever marketing to fool people into believing them.
  • Using encryption and anonymous payment mechanisms to hide their actions and make it more difficult to track and shut down.

What Are The Signs Of Legitimate Online Pharmacy? 

Check these signs to be sure the online pharmacy is safe and legitimate:

  •  A trustworthy online pharmacy requires a prescription from a qualified doctor before dispensing drugs.
  • The pharmacy should have a U.S. address and phone number you can verify.
  • A qualified pharmacist should be present to answer inquiries and advise on drugs.
  • The pharmacy must be licensed by a state pharmacy board. Check the state board of pharmacy’s licensing database.
  • The Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) seal demonstrates high pharmacy practice standards.
  • The website should have explicit privacy, shipping, and return policies to protect your personal and financial information.
  • They sell medications that seem like those from your local pharmacy, with proper packaging, labels in your language, and expiration dates.
  • The FDA or comparable regulatory organizations in your country should authorize the drugs.
  • Their prices should be competitive but not drastically lower than the market, as too-good-to-be-true prices can be a warning signal.
  • Look for “https” and a padlock icon in the web address to protect your personal and financial information. 
  • Look for positive customer reviews and ratings. Reputable online pharmacies have excellent reviews on trusted platforms.

The best way to steer clear of counterfeit medications is to stay informed and choose your sources carefully. If you suspect you’ve bought a counterfeit medicine, you can reach out to the FDA’s Division of Drug Information at [email protected].

Medically Reviewed By

Dr. Melissa J. Roybal
Dr. Melissa J. Roybal

Melissa has over 15 years of experience since graduating from Georgetown University, specializing in pediatrics, adult, and geriatric care. She is passionate about helping patients via telemedicine for various conditions.


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