According to a May 2012 survey by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), of more than 6,000 adults surveyed, one-quarter bought their medications online.
Before searching for your prescription online, take note. As many as 40,000 active online pharmacies are ready to give you deep discounts on whatever it is you need to buy. Picking the right online pharmacy may be more important than you realize.
The No. 1 rule when ordering online? “If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is,” says Kavitha Anna, PharmD, BCPS, a Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield group health pharmacist. “Don’t risk your health and your money on an ‘iffy’ proposition.”
In July 2012, the National Association of the Boards of Pharmacy analyzed 10,000 pharmacies and found that 97 percent were not compliant with U.S. pharmacy laws.
In October 2012, more than 4,000 online pharmacies were charged, seized or shut down by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for illegally selling potentially dangerous, unapproved drugs to consumers.
“When it comes to ordering prescriptions online, it’s hard to count the number of ways a prescription order can go wrong,” says Anna.
Some websites that sell medicine:
Some medicines sold online:
An important distinction: You may be able to fill or renew a prescription online through your local retail pharmacy (Hy-Vee, Walgreens and Wal-Mart). There’s a big difference between this and buying medications online through a pharmacy that only has an online presence. Unless you have questions about the reputation of your local pharmacy, you will likely not have a problem purchasing drugs from their websites.
Visit the FDA's website, BeSafeRx, to find your state's pharmacy licensing database.