It’s been almost two decades since online shopping exploded in popularity. But buying medications online has always been considered to be a shady affair that is rife with risk.
Risk, that you might be consuming a shiny, perfectly-packaged pill that was made in some backyard in a third world country and probably contains nothing that you’d expect it to.
We have heard the infamous stories of fake Viagra being made from Brick powder and injectibles containing a concoction of deadly drugs.
But the fact is, it’s 2018 that we are talking about and the online pharmacy business has undergone a sea of change. Not to mention that governments, law enforcement agencies and other organizations have been cracking down on illegal pharmacies in a more efficient manner than ever before.
So, at a time when you are trying to reduce healthcare costs and you come across an online advert that promises a great deal on your refill for everyday meds, do you take the plunge?
How reliable are online pharmacies these days?
Spotting the murky part of the online world
According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), more than 96% of the pharmacies online might be illegitimate or unlicensed to operate in the United States.
That, in no way means that the medications that they sell are counterfeit or poorly made. But the risk is always present.
And when it comes to life saving drugs, would you be willing to take that risk? That’s for individual customers to answer.
For now, there are a few easy ways that allow you to spot a fake pharmacy before you swipe your card.
- The ‘.pharmacy’ domain extension: If the website has the ‘.pharmacy’ domain extension instead of a ‘.com’ or a ‘.org’, then you can shop worry-free with them. Only pharmacies reviewed and licensed by NAPB are allowed to register this domain extension.
- The verified seal from VIPPS: The Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites program is a third party accreditation service for the NAPB that verifies legitimate pharmacies. A seal from VIPPS can be used as an indicator that the pharmacy is a legitimate one.
- State-Licensed Pharmacist: A licensed, legitimate United States pharmacy will always have a state-licensed pharmacist on board to answer your queries. You can ask them for the license and they will be more than willing to share the details with you.
- Submitting Prescriptions: Every licensed pharmacy will require you to submit a valid prescription and verify the authenticity of the same. If a pharmacy is willing to fill a prescription for you for a fee, then that’s a red flag right there.
Looking for bargain generics in storefronts
At times, you do not even need to look online for discounted rates on medications. There are hundreds of storefronts around the US that offer great discounts on generics. Some offer membership plans that give you access to discounted rates.
All said and done, it is possible to safely order medications from the internet. You just need to be aware of the pitfalls.