5 Things to Look for in an Online Pharmacy

When you buy medication online, you want to be sure you are dealing with a company that has a pharmacy license valid in the United States, Canada, or other approved country, and that the site has a verifiable privacy policy and transaction security.

Here's how you can tell if an internet pharmacy is running a safe, legitimate business:

  1. Contact information, including address and phone number, should be available on the website. Avoid any site that does not provide this information.
  2. Just like a brick-and-mortar pharmacy, online pharmacies require a doctor's prescription. Do not use any website that does not require a prescription.
  3. You should be able to communicate directly with a licensed pharmacist through the website.
  4. Online pharmacies may sell dietary supplements, but reputable sites do not promote any supplements as products that can prevent, treat, or cure a disease. Avoid sites that make or imply promises about the health benefits of dietary supplements.
  5. Information about health insurance, privacy, security, refill, and shipping policies should be clearly stated on the site.

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) is a professional organization that represents the state boards of pharmacy throughout the U.S. Their goal is to protect public health by assessing pharmacists and pharmaceutical standards of care. They oversee licensing programs, inspect pharmacies, respond to complaints, and take disciplinary action against pharmacies that break state laws and regulations. NABP also monitors and reviews online pharmacies. Look for sites that display the blue, oval-shape NABP icon with the acronym VIPPS, which stands for Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site.

You can also look for the PharmacyChecker.com seal on internet pharmacy sites. This white oval-shaped icon edged in blue means that the pharmacy meets this independent monitoring company's standards for quality and compliance with local pharmacy boards. Since the pharmacy must pay a fee to be reviewed by PharmacyChecker, the absence of their icon does not say anything about the legitimacy of an online retailer. PharmacyChecker also publishes a list of "rogue" online pharmacies that have been found to engage in unsafe pharmaceutical and internet practices. On the PharmacyChecker.com website, you can compare medication prices and read consumer ratings of various online pharmacies.

If you order prescription medications from an online pharmacy, make sure you are well informed about the type of medication you are taking, why you are taking it, the appropriate dosage, and any potential side effects. Your doctor should explain all medications to you before writing a prescription and answer any questions you have before you fill it.



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National Association of Boards of Pharmacy

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