How to choose an online drug store is trustworthy


Maybe you can imitate how the American people in choosing an online drugstore. Indeed, in the international regulation of pharmacy no guarantee of security and legal certainty to these online drug stores. But at least there are some online drug store can be trusted and you just have to know how to find them. Here’s what to know to do just that.

1. What an online pharmacy is

Online pharmacies are Internet-based vendors of prescription drugs. Because they can serve a large clientele from one central location — and avoid the cost of operating brick-and-mortar branches — they can sell medications more cheaply than traditional pharmacies.

In many cases, foreign online pharmacies can sell drugs for even less than domestic ones. Price caps that many countries place on drugs help drive down the costs.

2. Not every online pharmacy is the same

There are thousands of online pharmacies. Many are legal and legitimate, but many aren’t.

In many cases, illegitimate pharmacies don’t operate in compliance with U.S. rules and regulations. These pharmacies are considered fraudulent, and most of them are based in other countries, or claim to be. For example, many popular pharmacies operate out of Mexico and India, where medications are particularly inexpensive, but these countries don’t have medication quality and security guidelines as stringent as in the U.S. and Canada.

Fraudulent pharmacies have multiple ways of deceiving consumers. Some might send a non-U.S. version of your drug, an incorrect dosage or a generic when your doctor has prescribed a brand name. In other cases, you might receive the incorrect medication or a sugar pill without any active ingredients. You might also receive a medication with an incomplete or missing label, making it difficult to tell drugs apart or how to take them.

3. What the FDA says about foreign online pharmacies

No law explicitly forbids importing prescription drugs from other countries, so long as they aren’t controlled substances and are purchased with the approval of a licensed physician. Even so, the FDA recommends against buying drugs from other countries because consumers can’t confirm their safety and have no recourse against the manufacturers.

4. What is definitely legal

It’s definitely legal to purchase drugs through a U.S.-based online pharmacy that has been certified by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. The association is a professional organization that supports state pharmacy boards and is recognized by the FDA as the nation’s leading pharmacy authority.

Some online pharmacies aren’t verified by the association, but are verified by independently owned LegitScript. LegitScript approves only U.S.-based online pharmacies, and is acknowledged by the boards of pharmacy association for recognizing safe practices and complying with federal law. Unlike the association, however, LegitScript doesn’t require a fee or application from pharmacies for verification.

5. What is definitely illegal

It is illegal to do the following:

– Purchase controlled substances without a prescription written by a licensed doctor. This includes all prescription narcotic painkillers, sedatives, stimulants and anabolic steroids.
– Purchase prescription drugs that aren’t FDA approved, even if they’re legal in the country from which you purchase them.

If you can want to buy from a foreign pharmacy, you’ll also be held to that country’s laws. In order to legally purchase a controlled medicine from a Mexican online pharmacy, for example, you’ll need a prescription from a licensed Mexican physician in addition to the prescription from your local doctor.

6. How Canadian online pharmacies are different

Canadian pharmacy practices and standards are similar to those in the U.S. Legitimate Canadian pharmacies don’t require a separate Canadian prescription and avoid selling controlled substances to U.S. patients in order to comply with our laws. However, the FDA reports that many online pharmacies that appear Canadian are actually operating out of other countries.

True Canadian pharmacies are certified by the Canadian International Pharmacy Association, but they can’t be verified by U.S. pharmacy bodies. Even though research has shown that legitimate Canadian pharmacies sell legitimate drugs at cheaper prices, the FDA still advises against these purchases.

7. What the research says about online pharmacies

Two major studies have assessed online pharmacies. The most recent, conducted by the boards of pharmacy association in September 2013, found that 96.7% of online pharmacies selling to U.S. citizens were “rogue,” meaning that they didn’t comply with U.S. laws and regulations. The report covered 10,642 pharmacies, and determined that only 90 were legitimate, while another 258 were classified as potentially legitimate.

The National Bureau of Economic Research did a more comprehensive study in 2012. To assess drug cost and integrity, researchers acquired samples of the most popular dosages of five common brand name prescription drugs  — Lipitor, Viagra, Celebrex, Nexium and Zoloft — from a variety of online pharmacies. Researchers concluded that:

– All of the U.S. pharmacies required a process that ensures the prescription is authentic, compared with 90% of Canadian pharmacies and 67% of foreign pharmacies.
– 10% of the drugs provided were incorrect, or generic when a name brand was prescribed.
– Although there are many rogue pharmacies online, a blanket ban against certified Canadian pharmacies is unjustified and would prevent considerable savings for consumers, since Canadian drugs are 49% cheaper than those bought in the U.S.

8. Guidelines for safely purchasing drugs online

Use these guidelines to ensure your safety and the security of your personal information when buying medications online:

– Look for pharmacies that are certified by the U.S. or Canadian pharmacy association, indicating that they follow stringent safety and quality standards.
– Cross-check your pharmacy’s certification against the associations’ websites.
– Don’t buy from websites that sell drugs without a prescription, or that offer to prescribe the drug for you.
– Make sure your online pharmacy’s privacy and security policies are easy to understand. Illegal pharmacies will often sell your personal information.
– Check your pharmacy’s website for a physical address and a phone number you can call to talk to a pharmacist.
– Ask for your pharmacist’s license information. If he or she is U.S.-based, you can verify this information online.

Use the links below for more specific information.

– The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy has a listing of recommended sites ( ).
– The association’s not recommended sites are ( ).
– LegitScript’s recommended sites are ( ).
– If you’re looking into Canadian pharmacies, verify Canadian International Pharmacy Association certification ( ).
– To find a site recommended by the Canadian association, go ( ).
– PharmacyChecker’s reviews are ( ).

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