Health care is one of the most confusing aspects of getting treated for any medical reason and trying to find the best prices for your medication can be just as hard. That is why more and more Americans are turning to online pharmacies to help budget their medical prescriptions and save a little extra money. While this seems easier, there are a few things to remember when doing so and we are going to review 10 things you need to know before using an online pharmacy.

How An Online Pharmacy Works

An online pharmacy is very similar to a physical pharmacy except it can offer prescriptions at a lower price due to being able to serve many different people from all over the country from just one location. As for foreign pharmacies, they can offer lower prices as the prices for medication are much cheaper in other countries. Drugs are ordered online from the online pharmacies and shipped to you via common shipping companies. You can even use online coupons such as this Viagra coupon to save even more money.

Not All Online Pharmacies Are The Same

One of the biggest drawbacks about using an online pharmacy vs a standard pharmacy is that many of them are not legally regulated by the FDA. What this means is that they are not being checked up on by federal regulators so they may or may not be complying by the strict standard set in place by the FDA to ensure that your drugs are safe. While there are many different legitimate online pharmacies available to choose from online, there are a large number of illegitimate ones as well.

What Does The FDA Think?

The FDA, Federal Drug Administration, is an organization that regulates consumable products that are sold to the public. They play a big role in medical drugs and pharmacies to ensure that your drugs are safe for consumption. While there are no laws restricting importing legal drugs from another country, the FDA suggests against buying drugs from other countries as they cannot be confirmed to be authentic. The FDA works very diligently to seize illegal drugs and crack down on illegitimate sites that offer them.

What Is Legal

While on the topic of legality, we will want to look at what is legal and what is illegal when it comes to purchasing drugs online. All drugs that are offered through a US-based online pharmacy that is certified by the NABP are deemed legal. The NABP, National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, is an organization that the FDA recognizes as the leading authority in pharmacy. You can also find online pharmacies that have been certified by LegitScript who also is recognized by the FDA.

What Is Illegal

To keep you on the right side of the law, we will want to look at a few things that will make you want to steer clear of purchasing drugs from an online pharmacy. It is illegal to purchase controlled substances without a licensed doctor prescription. Some online pharmacies will offer narcotic painkillers, sedatives, and anabolic steroids without a prescription which is highly illegal. Importing prescription medications without a physician’s contact info for custom is also illegal. Of course, purchasing any prescription drugs in the US that have not been approved by the FDA, even though they are legal in other countries, is still illegal.

How Online Canadian Pharmacies Are Different

The US and Canadian pharmacy practices are very similar as they both follow each other pharmacy rules. Canadian pharmacies follow US rules when selling to US customers and vice versa. They will ensure that no controlled substances are sold to US patients and will verify prescriptions with US doctors to verify that the prescription is legitimate. They will also not require a separate Canadian prescription. The FDA does warn that there are a large number of online pharmacies that state that they are Canadian but actually operate out of other countries.

What Researchers Say

There have been many reports put out by different research firms to see how legitimate online pharmacies actually are. A report put out by the NABP in 2013 shows that over 96% of online pharmacies that were selling to the citizens of the US did not comply with US laws and regulations. This is a very alarming number to see as only 90 of the over 10,000 pharmacies that they investigated had actually been found to be legitimate. However, a 2012 study by the NBER showed that all US pharmacies had required a prescription verification.

What Are The Security Concerns?

The low prices of drugs available from third world countries lure many Americans in, but the security threat of your information and even the drugs that you are receiving should really be considered before giving them any of your information. 40% of the drugs available online from Mexico, according to the FDA estimates, were counterfeit, making them a useless buy for you. India’s laws on drugs are very incomplete making them hard to regulate and there are no laws on e-commerce in India making you very vulnerable to having your information stolen.

How To Purchase Pharmacy Drugs Online

To make sure that you are going to purchase the correct drugs that are safe and regulated, it is best to find an online pharmacy that is NABP or CIPA certified. Double check these sites with the NABP and CIPA as some site may be falsely advertising a certification. For drugs that need a prescription, avoid any site that allows you to make a purchase without a prescription, this usually means that the drug is a counterfeit or illegal operation. Look for a physical address and phone number so that you can call and speak to an on-location pharmacist. Lastly, you will want to make sure that they have privacy policies to keep your information safe.

How To Find The Best Online Pharmacy

To find the best online pharmacy, it is best to check the NABP, CIPA, and LegitScript sites for listings of their recommended sites to buy drugs from. This is going to be an easy way to navigate your way around the legitimate site.