7 Safety Tips to Buying Medications Online for Beginners

buying medications online

Did you know that 74% of the online pharmacies in North America are not trustworthy?

Untrustworthy sources might sell you the wrong drugs, provide drugs that aren’t approved, or steal your private information. That’s why you need to know how to avoid illegitimate pharmacies if you’re buying medications online.

It’s not always easy to tell the difference between a real pharmacy and one that’s unsafe. But learning to recognize the difference is of utmost importance to your health and well-being.

There are 7 simple ways to stay safe when buying from online pharmacies. Keep reading to learn more.

1. Make Sure It’s Legal

The legality of buying medications online has to do with where you are, where the pharmacy is, and whether or not you need a prescription for what you’re purchasing.

It’s legal to purchase from online pharmacies in Canada, but only when that pharmacy is located within Canada and when you hold the proper prescription for prescription drugs.

You cannot purchase medications that are shipped from outside of Canada. It’s only legal for practitioners, drug manufacturers, wholesale druggists, and registered pharmacists to do so. That goes for medications shipped from the US and around the globe.

In the case that you’ve found a drug that can potentially treat a life-threatening or very serious condition, and that drug isn’t available or authorized in Canada, don’t try to order this drug yourself. For these situations, there is a Health Canada program called the Special Access Program (SAP). Through this program, your doctor can likely get access to these drugs on your behalf.

2. Have a Prescription

Having a prescription for the drugs that you need is more than just a part of legality.  Having a prescription is about your safety.

You should never take prescription medication without being prescribed those medications by your doctor. There are many risks involved in doing so including improper treatment, dangerous interactions with other medications, and adverse reactions that could be life-threatening.

If you’re buying medications online, get the prescription from the doctor who has diagnosed your condition.

3. Learn to Identify Illegitimate Pharmacies

As we mentioned, nearly 1/4 of online pharmacies are untrustworthy at best and dangerous at worst. These pharmacies may sell unapproved, outdated, counterfeit, or substandard medication that can be dangerous to those who take them. They’re also unlikely to follow the protocols required of approved pharmacies.

Some of the risks of buying medication online from fake pharmacies include:

  • Getting the wrong medication
  • Bad reactions to medications
  • Worsening of your condition or the condition remaining the same
  • No quality control standards for preparation and packaging
  • Incorrect information on the label
  • The medication not being sent after paying for it
  • Stolen personal or banking information

You can identify an illegitimate pharmacy if they’re willing to sell you prescription medications without getting a prescription from you. Websites that tell you to fill out a questionnaire in order to get a prescription are also illegitimate. The only form of prescription that’s acceptable is one from your doctor.

Illegitimate pharmacies are those that can ship their medication worldwide. You should only be able to access medication from a pharmacy shipping within Canada.

4. Learn to Identify Legitimate Pharmacies

There are a few ways to tell if a pharmacy is legitimate. A safe pharmacy will:

  • Require that you have a prescription from a licensed Canadian healthcare provider
  • Be licensed by a provincial or territorial regulatory authority in Canada (their address should line up with the province or territory through which they’re regulated)
  • Sell approved drugs
  • Provide a Canadian address

If the website has a Canadian street address, then you can check with the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA) to see whether the pharmacy you’re buying from is legitimate. This Association is responsible for the licensing of pharmacies and pharmacists.

If there is no Canadian street address, another way to check their legitimacy is to see if the pharmacy is a member of the Pharmacy Verified Websites Program. This is an American program but it can be used by Canadians as well. They’ll tell you if the online pharmacy you’re working with is safe and legitimate.

5. Protect Your Privacy

Make sure that any place where you’re buying medication online gives you access to privacy and security settings. These should be very easy to find on the websites and shouldn’t take any digging to find.

As part of the privacy agreement, there should be a statement about your personal information. Legitimate online pharmacies will not sell your private information. That is unless you sign an agreement that says it’s okay for them to do so.

6. Don’t Trust Bargain Medication

The cost of buying medications online isn’t usually that far off from what you pay in the drugstore. Although there are ways to save money buying medication online, if the pharmacy offers bargains that are beyond belief, then don’t believe them.

That means if your $50 medication is going for $10, then you need to be careful about that pharmacy. To check what prices you should be paying, call a local pharmacy, and ask.

7. Check That There’s a Pharmacist

A legitimate online pharmacy will have a pharmacist that you can talk to. They might be available by phone, email, or online chat.

The importance of having a pharmacist around can’t be understated. These are the people responsible for filling medications and providing the correct doses. They’ll also notice if you’re ordering drugs that don’t interact well with each other, potentially saving you from adverse reactions.

Looking for the Convenience of Buying Medications Online?

Buying medications online is definitely convenient, but it’s not always safe. By keeping these 7 tips in mind when looking for an online pharmacy, you’re avoiding illegal practices, protecting your privacy, and ensuring your health and well-being.

If you’re thinking about ordering some or all of your prescriptions online, we’re an accredited online pharmacy. Have a look at the medication we offer to get started.