How to Find a Safe Online Pharmacy

person buying medication from online pharmacy

Using an online pharmacy can be beneficial for many reasons, like convenience, increased privacy, and deep discounts. But buying prescription drugs online can be illegal and incredibly risky if you don’t choose a licensed and certified pharmacy.

Dangers of an illegitimate online pharmacy

Taking medications from an internet-based pharmacy could be dangerous. For example, they could:

  • Have too much or too little of the active ingredient you need
  • Not contain the correct active ingredient
  • Contain other harmful ingredients
  • Interfere with other medications you’re taking
  • Cause dangerous side effects
  • Cause serious health problems or allergic reactions

Additionally, an illegitimate pharmacy cannot guarantee that it stores medications in a temperature-controlled environment, compromising the efficacy of the drug.

How to spot an illegitimate online pharmacy

Spotting an illegitimate pharmacy may be trickier than you’d think, but there are signs. For example, if their deep discounts seem too good to be true, they probably are.

An illegitimate pharmacy may also:

  • Allow you to purchase medication without a prescription written by a licensed doctor
  • Not have a licensed pharmacist available to answer your questions
  • Send you spam emails and calls offering you discounted prescription drugs
  • Not be based in the United States and claim to ship worldwide

Look closely at the site to see if it looks valid. There are a few signs you can check, such as googling the site’s name, checking to see if it’s a secure website, and checking the grammar and wording on the site. Even then, websites can still easily trick one into thinking they are safe. Be very careful when using the internet to purchase medications, and always err on the side of caution.

Signs of a safe online pharmacy

Your online pharmacy may be safe if it:

  • Requires a valid prescription from a licensed doctor or other healthcare professional
  • Has a U.S.-based pharmacist available to answer your questions
  • Is located in the United States and provides a street address

The most important indication that the online pharmacy you use is legitimate is if it’s licensed and verified. The pharmacy needs to be licensed by your state’s board of pharmacy or similar state agency. See if your pharmacy is licensed in your state here.

Your online pharmacy will also need a VIPPS seal, which is a Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site seal. Online pharmacies with this seal have met licensing requirements and criteria set by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP).

If you discover an illegitimate online pharmacy, you may report it to the FDA here.

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