Stay Safe by Staying Away From Scams: How to Find a Reputable Online Pharmacy
Category: Drug Information
Posted on February 22, 2021
Vanessa is a health writer and blogging expert. Her specialities are medicine, health and wellness. She is proud to call Vancouver, BC her home where she enjoys the ocean and mountains with her dog Mr. ChowChow.
Are you tired of making the trek to your pharmacy every month? With COVID-19 still a threat, it's become dangerous to pick up your prescription. Instead, consider getting the medications you need from a reputable online pharmacy.
Don't rush to buy prescriptions online from the first website you come across, though. Instead, it's important to find a legal online pharmacy you can trust.
Otherwise, you could end up scammed. In fact, only 4% of online pharmacies operate legally. By learning how to recognize a legit online pharmacy, you can keep your personal information safe.
About 25% of online shoppers already buy their medications online. By learning how to recognize a licensed, legal pharmacy, you can buy what you need without stress.
Ready to find a reputable pharmacy? Start with these easy tips today!
1. Understand Your Medication
Before you start shopping online, it's important you know what you need. Otherwise, you could get swept up in marketing messages.
Over 131 million people take prescription medications. No two people are on the same list of medications, though. Before you buy prescriptions online, make sure you understand what you're taking.
Don't purchase a medication unless your doctor prescribes it. Otherwise, it could have an adverse effect on your health. You might think you need a certain medication, only to realize you need to change your diet.
2. Speak With a Doctor
Take the time to schedule an appointment with your doctor or dietitian. They'll let you know what medications and supplements you need to take.
Your doctor might determine you need to complete a blood test first. A blood test will ensure you're only taking the medications you need. You might have a health condition or vitamin deficiency without realizing it.
During your appointment, make sure to talk to your doctor about your lifestyle habits. You might want to track your diet for a week before your appointment. Your habits and symptoms can help your doctor make the best assessment.
For example, they might recognize your diet is missing key vitamins. They could also help you realize that the medications you're currently taking are causing side effects.
During your appointment, make sure to speak to your doctor about your daily routine. What foods do you eat? Do you exercise?
You should also mention if you have a family history of any medical conditions. Are you at risk for a medical issue in the future?
Your doctor can help you recognize potential health concerns down the road.
The lifestyle changes you plan on making could indicate you need certain medications, too. For example, you'll need a new regimen if you plan on getting pregnant. If you're at risk of developing osteoporosis, you could start to experience symptoms.
Once you have a better idea of your health needs, you can find an online pharmacy to set up your orders!
3. Ask Questions
Take the time to ask your doctor questions before you buy prescriptions online. Relying on their expertise will help you avoid making costly mistakes. Remember, your medications should support your health goals, not hinder them.
During a consultation appointment, ask your doctor if they can suggest any reputable online pharmacies you can trust. You can also ask them if the medications they're prescribing will cause any side effects.
If side effects are common, keep track of how you react when you start taking the medication.
You should also ask your doctor if the medication will interact with food or other prescriptions. Should you take the medication at a certain time of day, with juice, or on an empty stomach?
How often should you take the medication?
Ask these questions before you purchase a new medication for the first time.
4. Recognize Scams
In order to make sure you've found a reputable online pharmacy, it helps to know when you've come across a scam instead.
Remember, only 4% of online pharmacies operate legally. There's a chance you'll come across an illegally operating pharmacy during your search.
Purchasing your medication from an unverified pharmacy could put your health in danger. After all, you don't want to buy medication full of harmful fillers. In addition to selling fake medications, these pharmacies could also turn you into a victim of identity theft.
Beyond that, a fraudulent online pharmacy could put your computer at risk, too. Some websites can infect your computer with a virus. Others will sell your private information to other fraudulent websites.
There are a few ways you can identify a fake pharmacy to avoid scams.
Avoid any pharmacy that:
- Indicates your medications will ship from a foreign country
- Sends you spam mail that offers cheap prescription medications
- Sells your medications at a discount that seems too good to be true
- Allows you to buy medications without first providing a prescription from a licensed doctor
- Isn't licensed by a health authority
A legit online pharmacy will require you to provide a valid prescription from your doctor.
It's sometimes difficult to recognize a scam from a legitimate online pharmacy. Many illegally-operating pharmacies use trickery to make customers believe they're legitimate. In many cases, these websites attract buyers by pretending to offer medications at a discount.
Some of these websites are so well made that even health care professionals struggle to recognize they're fake pharmacies at a glance.
Using these tips can help you buy prescriptions online from legitimate pharmacies you can trust.
Social Media Scams
About 95% of the websites that sell prescription drugs online operate illegally. Meanwhile, 38% of social media posts that promote the sale of medications provide links to illegitimate online pharmacies.
With that in mind, it's important that you not trust every advertisement you see while shopping online. Chances are an illegitimate online pharmacy will try to attract your attention.
Remember, these pharmacies often operate by offering low prices for prescription medications. Don't prioritize saving money. Instead, remember that your medication should help your health; not hinder it.
5. Send Your Prescription
The FDA is responsible for regulating prescription medications in the US. Unfortunately, they can't track every imported product to confirm they're safe.
Before you buy prescriptions online, make sure the pharmacy asks for your prescriptions. Most online pharmacies don't have the approval to operate from the FDA. In many cases, a pharmacy can appear overnight, start scamming customers, and disappears before anyone can complain.
If this happens, you might struggle to get your money back.
It's difficult to ensure a pharmacy will send you the right medications unless they have your prescription. If the pharmacy doesn't ask for a doctor's official prescription, look for another pharmacy.
Otherwise, you could put yourself at risk. Remember, some illegitimate pharmacies send medications with harmful fillers. Others might send you the wrong medication, while some could send you counterfeit medications that aren't approved for use.
Make your health a priority. Check the website to see if there's a licensed pharmacist you can speak with. Is there a number or chat function you can use to contact them?
Speaking with a pharmacist can help you confirm you're receiving the right medications. You can also ask them questions regarding your dosage and potential interactions.
If the online pharmacy doesn't provide you access to a licensed pharmacist, keep searching.
6. Read the Label
Before making a purchase from an online pharmacy, take the time to explore different options. What's the average price for the medication you're searching for?
Remember, some websites will try to get your attention by selling the medication you need at a surprisingly low price. Trusting these websites could leave you with illegitimate medications.
Take time to read the label for the product as well. Does the label make outlandish marketing claims?
You might see language such as "cure-all" or "immediate results!" Don't believe everything you read.
Instead, make sure you're only choosing medications your doctor prescribed.
You can check the website for these outlandish claims as well. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
7. Explore the Website
Knowing how to review a website can also help you avoid scams.
Before you start exploring the website, take a look at the URL. Do you see ".pharmacy" at the end of the domain name? If so, you can trust that website.
Reputable online pharmacy websites can't fake the ".pharmacy" domain name. In fact, the National Board of Pharmacies (NABP) checks these sites. If the NABP finds the website doesn't follow federal and state procedures, they're not deemed a legit online pharmacy.
Take another look at the website's URL. Do you notice "HTTPS" at the front of the domain name? You should also see a small, closed lock before the URL.
"HTTPS" indicates the website has an SSL certificate, which means it's secure.
Shopping from secure websites can give you peace of mind. You won't have to worry that a hacker will sell your private information. Make sure a website is secure before you enter your name, address, or credit card information to make a purchase.
Using these tips will help you avoid scams and find a legal online pharmacy you can trust.
8. Use Your Tools
There are plenty of tools available to help you find a reputable online pharmacy. In fact, many organizations have already done the heavy lifting for you!
First, make sure to check the NABP website. Remember, NABP screens online pharmacies to make sure they're following proper standards. The NABP takes the time to make sure pharmacies communicate with their patients and the methods they use as well.
They can also help you find pharmacies that will protect your personal information.
During your search, look for websites that have the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS®) Seal. The VIPPS seal can help you differentiate safe online pharmacies from the rest. These pharmacies meet NABP's standards and proper licensure requirements.
It's important to note that some illegitimate websites have started to use the VIPPS seal. Double-check that the pharmacy is legit by reviewing the NABP website.
You can also check the FDA website for information. Does the online pharmacy have any complaints filed against them? If so, mark them off your list.
Are you interested in buying your medications from a Canadian pharmacy? Use the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA). They can help you find pharmacies that are operating safely.
Using these tools can help you ensure the online pharmacy you're researching operates legally.
9. Call Your Insurance Company
You can also learn more about a specific medication by checking with your health insurance company.
Does your medical coverage plan cover part of the cost? Can your insurance company provide you with a list of online pharmacies they trust?
Your insurer won't review every online pharmacy in existence. There is a chance they haven't vetted some of the pharmacies on your list. Still, checking their lit can give you a good place to start with your own research.
10. Read Reviews
There are plenty of online shoppers before you who have come across illegally operating pharmacies. To avoid a scam, learn from their experiences! Check online for reviews to discover which pharmacies are legit.
PharmacyChecker is a great place to find customer reviews. This site will help you find foreign and local pharmacies that have the proper licensing.
Try to read reviews from a few different sources to get a better idea about your options.
Don't forget to check the NABP's list of Not Recommended Sites as well. This list includes over 11,000 drug sites that don't operate out of compliance with federal and state pharmacy laws. About 95% of the sites NABP has evaluated are out of compliance with these laws and standards.
Skip the Scams: 10 Tips for Finding a Reputable Online Pharmacy
Learning how to avoid scams can make your online shopping experience a success. With these 10 tips, you can find a reputable online pharmacy you can trust. By finding a certified pharmacy, you can get everything you need from a safe, affordable resource.
Start shopping for your medications without leaving the comfort of your own home today!
Ready to get your medication from a pharmacy you can trust? Discover how to place your order today to get started.