How often have you considered getting medicine from a legitimate online pharmacy? If you have, you’re not alone because almost a quarter of Americans have purchased medications online at one point or another.
A majority of these people cannot afford medications, so they turn to the internet to hunt for bargains, even from online pharmacies outside the country.
However, the problem lies in the fact that a majority of these pharmacies are illicit, and they dominate Google searches to capture the most vulnerable people. Some of the most significant reasons why they are so appealing to so many people are because they tout fast deliveries of different types of drugs at bargain prices, without the need for prescriptions.
So how do you find a legitimate online pharmacy? This is precisely what we’re going to discuss in this comprehensive guide. We’ll help you understand what to look for to avoid being scammed or getting the wrong medications.
What Are the Dangers of Purchasing Medicine Online?
If you have already used Google search, then you know there are hundreds, if not thousands of these websites, and a majority of them don’t comply with the pharmacy laws and standards.
The problem with these illicit pharmacies is that most of them deal with ineffective, expired, misbranded, or even toxic medicine. Even worse, some could be laced with dangerous substances such as opioids.
Some of these drugs may not have the active ingredients required to beat the disease. Others may have the wrong active ingredients, making them even more harmful.
On the other hand, they may not contain any active ingredient whatsoever, meaning that taking them would be pointless. Online pharmacy hcg, antidepressants, and cancer meds can be very dangerous unless you’re extra careful.
Prescription drug frauds are a thing. You risk identity theft from the personal information you provide while placing the order. You may also fall victim to scammers who pretend to be FDA or DEA officials. What they do is search for people purchasing online drugs then threaten them with arrests unless they pay fines.
Even though purchasing prescription drugs in itself is not illegal, you should take precautions and purchase from a legitimate online pharmacy to avoid fraudsters or black marketeers.
Signs of Unregulated Online Pharmacies
Rogue online pharmacies will have several of these traits, so once you notice them, you should avoid purchasing anything from them.
- Websites that allow you to purchase without a valid prescription
- No available state-licensed pharmacist to help out if you have questions
- Offer very low prices for the medications
- Ship worldwide, meaning they may not adhere to US laws
- Keep sending you spam and unsolicited emails with cheap drug offers
- No listing for licensing, certification, or regulatory details
- Offers to buy medication in excessive bulk
- No contact details available on the site
- Little to no medical information on the site
When you come across such websites and feel the deals being offered are simply too good to be true, then they probably are. If you start receiving emails promoting ‘miracle’ pills for serious illness, then it’s a guaranteed fake online pharmacy.
At best, the medicine you buy from them will do nothing, and at worst, they will cause you great harm and severe consequences.
How to Spot a Legitimate Online Pharmacy
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, the FDA, and the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies offer the right tools to help locate legitimate online pharmacies.
- Check to see whether the site has contact information and a US address
- Look for a “.pharmacy” domain or the VIPPS logo
- You require a valid prescription
- No low and suspicious prices
- A licensed pharmacist should be available for assistance
- Displays all regulatory badges
Online Pharmacy Regulatory Bodies
In addition to the red flags above, you can use authoritative resources to verify whether you’re dealing with a legitimate online pharmacy. Here are those organizations.
In America, pharmacies and pharmacists are licensed by state boards, such as the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. This is a non-profit organization in the 50 states, US territories, and the 10 Canadian provinces. The NABP offers the VIPPS or Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites program for online pharmacies.
This program screens all online pharmacy processes and services such as filling prescriptions, customer information protection, and communications with online customers. A legitimate online pharmacy will have the VIPPS seal on its website. Given the ability to copy the seal and use it fraudulently, you should still verify it through other factors.
It’s important to understand that both US-based and non-US pharmacies can have the “.pharmacy” domain as long as they meet all the eligibility requirements. The NABP also provides a list of rogue online pharmacies that are not recommended to help consumers out.
The FDA works in conjunction with the NABP to ensure that legitimate online pharmacies get the VIPPS seal. Unlike the “.pharmacy” program, only pharmacies in the US can receive the VIPPS seal.
You can check the FDA website to determine whether you’re dealing with a legitimate online pharmacy. You can also report any pharmacy you discover to be selling medications illegally. Note that it is illegal to import medicines that are not approved by the FDA.
What About Canadian Pharmacies?
Americans can purchase medications from Canada because most of their pharmacies are approved by the Canadian International Pharmacy Association or CIPA. Still, you need to be vigilant because a lot of scammers hide their main domains and pretend to be Canadian.
If you want to purchase medications from Canadian online pharmacies, you should check the CIPA’s list of legitimate Canadian pharmacies.
Searching for Legitimate Online Pharmacies
Searching for the most legitimate online pharmacy doesn’t have to be hard. As a consumer, you have several ways to purchase over-the-counter and prescription drugs, but online can be convenient and cost-effective. We hope you have a better understanding of legitimate online pharmacies and how to find one.