Many people have found the privacy and convenience of using an online pharmacy to be a major help in their lives. There are countless people who have begun taking advantage of this excellent resource and most are very happy with it. Unfortunately, the United States FDA issued a warning last month about a scheme involving major extortion that targets people using online resources for prescription purchases. Many people were harmed by this scheme and that may be partly due to the fact that many do not know how to recognize a safe online pharmacy from an unsafe one.
While there will always be people trying to take advantage of those utilizing online resources, there are some things that you can do to protect yourself; especially when it comes to purchasing prescriptions online. Use the following guidelines to help you determine whether the online pharmacy you are using is a safe and dependable choice.
Make Sure the Pharmacy Is Licensed
Your online pharmacy of choice must be licensed in your state or at least licensed to deliver medications to patients within your state. This verification of licensure is of utmost importance and is a basic thing that every online pharmacy should possess. Your online pharmacy should be just as professional, reliable, and reputable as your local pharmacy and you should expect the exact same things from both. The NABP (National Association of Boards of Pharmacy) was established in 1904 as a way of ensuring that each and every pharmacy in the US abided by the same standards. The NABP covers the following areas:
- The 50 states of the US
- The District of Columbia
- The 3 US Territories
- The 9 Canadian Provinces
- The 4 states of Australia
Proof and Verification of Prescriptions
In order to make sure that your online pharmacy is not simply a drug market, they should be taking measures to get proof of your prescriptions as well as taking the time to verify them. Your online pharmacy should be just as interested in your health as they are in your business. When you are enrolling with an online pharmacy, you want to be sure that they are asking for more than basic personal information, prescriptions, and a credit card number. These things alone do not give them the information necessary to ensure that your prescription is correct.
There are very strict rules of medical practices that all online pharmacies are required to meet, and the reputable ones will. At the time, the endless questions will seem like a hassle, but the more information they gather about your health, the more you know that you are in good hands.
While the NABP only covers specific areas, the VIPPS (Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites) was created in 1999 as a way for pharmacies to establish themselves as meeting the highest standards. In order to be certified by the VIPPS, online pharmacies are required to meet very high and very strict standards as well as complying 100% with certain licensing and inspection requirements. Likewise, the pharmacies must meet the different specific requirements for each and every state that they become licensed to distribute medications in.
VIPPS certified pharmacies are also required to have a certification team actually visit their site and ensure that certain requirements are met. They must also pass subsequent inspections that can either be random or scheduled in order to maintain their certification status. Recognizing a VIPPS certified site is simple. The VIPPS seal will be readily displayed on the pharmacy’s website and hyperlinked to the VIPPS site. If you want more information about VIPPS certified or the online pharmacy you are considering, you can use the seal to browse the VIPPS website and find the answers you are looking for.
Use Common Sense
There are a few basic rules that apply to most anything in life, and should not be forgotten when choosing an online pharmacy. First of all, do not attempt to buy medications from websites that have not actually been prescribed for you. Not only is that considered drug abuse, but you put yourself at risk for contaminated products, incorrect dosages, or even being scammed and losing money. You also put your health in great danger since taking medications unnecessarily can cause serious health problems.
Don’t just settle for the first online pharmacy that you come across; do some research and really find the best one for you. Always check the NABP to make sure that the pharmacy is in good standing, and even consider narrowing your options down to only those that are VIPPS certified. You also want to stay away from foreign sites; they do not have to adhere to the rules enforced within the US, which means that you have no way of knowing that the medications you receive are safe.
Remember that in general, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Websites offering extremely low prices, “cure-all” drugs, or websites that are constantly trying to push you into purchasing something else are not trustworthy. Your online pharmacy should be the same as any other pharmacy; they simply fill your prescription, answer any questions, take your payment, and wish you the best. Your local pharmacist does not try to sell you additional medications, and neither will a good online pharmacy.