Man and woman piecing together cost savings
Prescription Savings

Online Pharmacies: What to Know & What to Avoid

01/04/2022

These days, online or virtual doctors’ appointments have become the reliable, safe and convenient way to see a doctor. So it makes sense that online pharmacies would follow suit. However, it is important to pay close attention before buying medicine or filling prescriptions at online pharmacies. To make things simple, we put together a guide to online pharmacies, including what to look for and what to avoid.

Buying your medication from online pharmacies can be affordable and convenient. Still, while there are legitimate online pharmacies, it’s essential to keep an eye out for the bad apples that might not have your best interests at heart.

The risks of using online pharmacies

The first site to sell medicine online was Soma back in 1999. Now, there are over 35,000 online pharmacies operating on a global level, and that might be an underestimation. While this might sound like improved access for getting the medication you need, there are risks to personal and public safety when buying medicines online.

Almost 96% of online pharmacies are reported to be rogue pharmacies. Otherwise known as illegal or illicit pharmacies, these rogue pharmacies don’t adhere to the laws and regulations on a national or international level. These pharmacies are not certified or verified for safety, which could spell out bad news for the consumer. The risks involved with using online pharmacies include:

Using medication without guidance from a healthcare provider

Many pharmacies online advertise that you don’t need a prescription to purchase their medicine online. However, it’s important to buy prescription-only drugs with a doctor’s approval, or you might increase your risk of side effects from wrong dosing and drug interactions.

Buying fake or low-quality medicine.

It may be difficult to tell where an online pharmacy is sourcing its medications. Pharmaceutical companies should abide by current good manufacturing practices (cGMP) when producing their medications to ensure quality and safety. Some online pharmacies may be providing their medications from companies that don’t have standards for upholding quality. In some cases, the medications may be mixed with other ingredients, which can be dangerous.

Having your private and health information compromised

Rogue pharmacies often don’t have a privacy rights page listed. They could take your private information and share it with others, or you might receive unwanted mail and phone calls after providing your information.

Be smart about buying prescription medication online

So, what can you do to guarantee your safety while buying medicine from online pharmacies?

Although most online pharmacies may be operating in an illegal manner, there are still many pharmacies online that sell medicine legitimately. Many of these pharmacies are verified by the national board of pharmacy. You can use the NABP search tool to see if the online pharmacy is accredited. Keep in mind a few other things to ensure your safety when buying medicine online:

  • Make sure you talk to a pharmacist or licensed healthcare provider at the online pharmacy you purchase from.
  • Avoid buying medicine from social media platforms or sites with no contact information. Ideally, the pharmacy should provide a phone number and address in the United States.
  • Avoid purchasing prescription drugs from a site that doesn’t require a prescription or offers medications that are not FDA-approved.
  • Don’t buy medicines that a site claims can provide extraordinary or unrealistic benefits, such as an all-in-one remedy or cure.
  • Use the FDA verification tool to ensure the online pharmacy is licensed in your state.

If you’re uncomfortable purchasing medicine online, you can always buy medication in person. Buying your prescription drugs in person is almost always a safe bet. Whether you buy your medication online or in person, you can also save on costs.

Inside Rx provides a prescription discount card that can be used to help lower the cost of brand and generic medications. You can use the Inside Rx card at over 60,000 pharmacies across the nation and save up to 80% on brand and generic drugs. Compare prescription prices at the pharmacies near you, and once you find the best price, you can instantly download the card to access your savings. Show your Inside Rx card to your pharmacist to see if you can save!

These days, online or virtual doctors’ appointments have become the reliable, safe and convenient way to see a doctor. So it makes sense that online pharmacies would follow suit. However, it is important to pay close attention before buying medicine or filling prescriptions at online pharmacies. To make things simple, we put together a guide to online pharmacies, including what to look for and what to avoid.

Sign up for the Inside Scoop to hear about our latest news, medications and savings opportunities!

Save up to 80% on brand & generic medications.