Thursday, September 3, 2009

Mayo Clinic: The Do’s and Don’ts of Buying Prescriptions Online

The following pointers are from about the do’s and don’ts to buying prescription drugs online:

Things to do:

  • Do consult your doctor. Only take medications prescribed for you by your doctor or another health care professional who knows you. He or she can determine if a particular drug is safe for you or if another treatment would be more appropriate.
  • Do use a licensed pharmacy. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy can tell you whether an online pharmacy is licensed and in good standing. Some sites carry a seal of approval from Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (or VIPPS). To gain this approval, sites must maintain state licenses and allow inspections by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.
  • Do insist on access to a registered pharmacist. Reputable sites offer toll-free access to registered pharmacists to answer your questions. Some online pharmacies have traditional physical locations as well. If you have questions about a medication after you begin taking it or you're concerned about drug reactions, it may be valuable to speak with a pharmacist in person.

  • Do read the privacy and security policies. Before placing an order, be confident that your credit card number, personal health information and other personally identifiable information will be protected.

  • Do compare prices. You may find great deals online, but there aren't any guarantees. Check your local drugstore's price—it might beat the online price. If online prices are significantly lower than your local pharmacy, you should question whether the site is legitimate.

  • Do be alert for counterfeits. In some cases, drugs ordered online turned out to contain no active ingredient or to contain the wrong medicine. Reduce your risk by only using legitimate online pharmacies. Don't use any medicine that arrives in altered or unsealed packaging.

Things not to do:
  • Don't use a site that bypasses prescriptions. Online pharmacies that dispense medication without a valid prescription are violating U.S. law. Don't be lured in by sites that give you a prescription if you complete an online questionnaire. Only your doctor can safely prescribe medication for you.

  • Don't order medication that's not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It's illegal to import unapproved drugs into the United States. Taking an inappropriate or unsafe drug can have life-threatening consequences.

  • Don't overlook the address and phone number. Steer clear of sites that don't provide a street address and phone number or that list only foreign contact information. Use only U.S. pharmacies. International pharmacies may sell drugs that do not have FDA approval or that are illegal in the United States.

  • Don't succumb to false claims. Don't buy medication from sites that advertise "miracle cures" or those that use impressive terminology to disguise a lack of good science.

  • Don't keep complaints quiet. If your order doesn't arrive, you find unauthorized charges on your credit card or you have another problem with an online pharmacy, report it to the FDA. Speaking up can help promote a safer marketplace for everyone.

As offered in this blog before, it is very important to be vigilant in buying any prescription medications online.
Remember, “if a deals sounds too good to be true, it probably is” is the best advice when dealing with online products. Counterfeit and fraudulent drugs permeate the web with some estimates as high as 60% of online medications as counterfeit product. Protect yourself and your family and follow these do’s and don’ts.

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