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Guide to Buying Medicines Online

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The number of people using the internet to buy medicine has increased over the years. Of course it is convenient, but are you aware of the possible hazards?

Possible Risks of Buying Medicines from Unregistered Pharmacies

  • The medicines could be contaminated and could lead to serious side effects.
  • The medicine could contain a wrong active ingredient which is not approved by authorizing organizations like the FDA.
  • The medication could be too old and may even be well past its “sell by” date. This would reduce the effectiveness of the medicine.
  • Products may be manufactured under non-standard conditions and could contain wrong amounts of the active ingredients.
  • In case the product fails to be effective or causes harm, patients will have no legal recourse against the pharmacy if it is located outside the U.S. or UK.

How to Protect Yourself—Six Points to Look Out For

Look for the following on the pharmacy Web site before making the buy:

1. Registrations and Licenses: All legitimate pharmacies are affiliated/approved by a licensing authority. So check the Web site to find the seal/logo of approval.

For UK residents: Check to see if the Web site is affiliated to Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB). Any Web site participating with the RPSGB will have a distinct logo representing the same on its frontpage/homepage. For instance, check this online pharmacy and you will be able to find a green square logo on the left panel. Clicking the logo will take you to a page that contains a link to the RPSGB page that has details about the pharmacist running the Web site and information about location of the pharmacy.

For US residents: Check to see if the pharmacy is licensed by the state board of pharmacy. You can check to get a list of state boards of pharmacy. In addition, check the front page of the Web site to see if the site has a VIPPS seal. VIPPS stands for Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites and Web sites having this seal are 100 percent legitimate. After finding the seal, click on the seal to check if the license is valid. The link should take you to the Web site, where you should be able to find a verification link

2. Contact Information: Pharmacies that sell counterfeit medications are generally based in third world nations. So check to find where the pharmacy is located. Buy medications only from pharmacies located in the U.S. if you are a U.S. resident or UK if you are a UK resident. All legitimate Web sites contain proper contact information along with details of the name of the business owner and superintendent pharmacist.

3. Professional Support: Call the pharmacy to see if they have genuine support facility and a working U.S. phone number. Also find out if they have a licensed pharmacist available to attend to customer queries.

4. Legitimate Practices: Over the counter drugs can be sold without prescriptions, but it is illegal to sell prescription drugs without prescription from a licensed medical professional. Make it a point not to buy prescription drugs from Web sites that do not require you to present a doctor’s prescription before selling the medicines. This is illegal and Web sites that resort to this are generally fraudulent

5. Proper Privacy Policy: Look for privacy and security policies on the Web site that are easy to find and easy to understand.

6. Secure Payment Gateways: Check to see if the Web site uses secure payment gateways to process your order online. You can identify a secure gateway by looking at the “https” sign in the URL of the payment gateway. The letter “s” stands for “secure.”

Looks can deceive and this is exactly what applies to Web sites selling prescription and over the counter drugs on the internet. Web sites can look legitimate but still be selling lower grade products. Considering this is a matter where your health is involved, follow proper precautions, and make informed decisions before buying your drugs online.


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