Buying Online Drugs Safely - Adventist HealthCare

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Buying Online Drugs Safely

Topic Overview

Buying medicine over the Internet can make life a lot easier. Medicines on the Internet are sometimes cheaper. Your pills are delivered to your door.

Unfortunately, there are many dishonest online drugstores—and it can be hard to tell the honest ones from the dishonest ones. So you need to be very careful when you're buying medicines online.

How can you safely buy drugs online?

You can safely buy medicine online if you use online pharmacies recommended by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. This organization verifies Internet drugstores throughout the United States and most Canadian provinces.

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy has created a website at www.awarerx.org. You can visit this site to find out which online drugstores are recommended and which aren't.

It's also safe to buy medicine through your health insurance company's website.

Don't trust an online drugstore if:

  • The website doesn't ask you for a prescription.
  • The drugstore isn't a licensed pharmacy. In the U.S. and Canada, pharmacies are licensed by individual state or provincial governments.
  • The online drugstore doesn't have a licensed pharmacist available to answer your questions.
  • The website isn't "secure." This means that any information you type in—your address, your credit card number—could be read and used by anyone who comes across it. Secure websites use special tools to "encrypt" your information. They turn it into a code that other people can't read. You can tell that a website is secure if the URL (the Web address) begins with "https" rather than just "http."

Why should you worry about online drugs?

You could end up buying pills that hurt rather than help.

The World Health Organization found that more than half of the drugs sold online and by places that do not show a physical address were fake. Medicines that you buy online from sources that are not regulated can be either too strong or too weak.

Criminals who sell drugs online have one goal: to make money. So they often focus on medicines that are in demand and not available in a lower-cost generic form.

Many fake drugs are expertly packaged. They look like the real thing, but they may have been made under very dirty conditions. And they may contain ingredients like chalk, sugar, and flour instead of the medicine you need. In the worst cases, a fake pill will contain drugs or chemicals that could harm you.

Related Information

References

Other Works Consulted

  • National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (2011). Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program: Progress Report for State and Federal Regulators. Available online: http://www.nabp.net/programs/assets/IDOI_Report_10-11.pdf.
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2012). Buying prescription medicine online: A consumer safety guide. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/resourcesForYou/ucm080588. Accessed October 17, 2014.
  • World Health Organization (2010). Medicines: Spurious/falsely-labelled/falsified/counterfeit (SFFC) medicines. Fact Sheet No. 275. World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs275/en. Accessed October 7, 2014.

Credits

Current as ofMarch 28, 2018

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine

Disclaimer: The information contained in this website, and its associated websites, is provided as a benefit to the local community, and the Internet community in general; it does not constitute medical advice. We try to provide quality information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website and its associated sites. As medical advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each patient and healthcare is constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of a competent physician. Furthermore, in providing this service, Adventist HealthCare does not condone or support all of the content covered in this site. As an Adventist health care organization, Adventist HealthCare acts in accordance with the ethical and religious directives for Adventist health care services.

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