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The advent of online pharmacies has made things easier for Americans looking to save money and buy their medications in a more convenient way.

The online pharmaceutical industry isn’t without problems, though. For example, many people (one in six, in fact) have bought medications online without a valid prescription.

Shopping through illegitimate pharmacies can lead to people taking counterfeit drugs and experiencing a myriad of negative effects.

You don’t have to avoid buying prescriptions online altogether. You just have to be smart about it. Listed below are ten tips that will help you stay safe when you buy prescriptions online.

1. Make Sure They Ask for a Prescription

This is one of the most common signs that you’re working with a legitimate online pharmacy. If the online pharmacy you’re considering doesn’t require you to present a prescription from a licensed physician, that’s a huge red flag.

Any pharmacy worth working with will ask for this before they agree to fill anything for you. Most of them will ask you to upload a prescription or have your doctor send it to them before they’ll let you move forward with your order.

2. Ask to Talk to a Pharmacist

A legitimate online pharmacy will still have a licensed pharmacist working for them.

You should be able to talk to this pharmacist at any time if you have questions about your prescription (or if you want to verify that the pharmacy is a trustworthy one).

If you contact the pharmacy’s customer service line and can’t get ahold of a licensed pharmacist, that’s a major sign that you shouldn’t place an order with them.

3. Check Their Address

Working with an online pharmacy is a lot like working with an online bank or any other online business.

They may be an internet company, but they still should have a physical address listed on their website. And, that physical address should be a legitimate address, not a mere PO box.

If you can’t find proof of a physical business tied to the website, you should be wary of placing an order with them. 

4. Look for a Seal of Approval

There are organizations that verify the legitimacy of online pharmacies. Look for a seal of approval from one of these organizations if you’re considering ordering through a particular pharmacy. 

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy is one of the most well-known organizations to look for. Their seal is known as the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practices Site (or VIPPS for short). 

There are also non-profit organizations like the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies and LegitScript that provide free tools to help you verify certain online pharmacies.

5. Check the URL

When you’re ordering through an online pharmacy, take a look at their website URL. Does it end with .pharmacy instead of .com? 

This is one of the requirements put in place by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy before they’ll give an online pharmacy their seal of approval.

Ending in .pharmacy is not the be-all-end-all when it comes to choosing an online pharmacy. It can be something useful to look out for, though, along with the other factors included in this list.

6. Be Wary of Super Low Prices

If you find an online pharmacy that offers super low prices, that’s a sign that they might not be the real deal.

It’s true that online pharmacy prices are often lower than traditional pharmacy prices. If they seem like they’re too good to be true, though, it’s likely that they are.

Don’t let yourself get sucked in by very low prices. This could be an indicator that the pharmacy is selling counterfeit drugs that won’t give you the effects you need to stay healthy.

7. Look for Their License

Any good online pharmacy will have its license displayed on their website. They won’t have anything to hide and will make it easy for you to find and evaluate their license. If this isn’t the case, you probably shouldn’t work with that specific pharmacy. 

8. Consider Their Privacy Policy

Take a look at the pharmacy’s privacy policy, too. Again, this information should be readily available on their site, and you shouldn’t have to dig for it.

Reviewing this policy will help you ensure you’re not giving personal information to a company that will use it for nefarious purposes. It also helps you to verify the overall security of the site.

9. Read Reviews

Don’t forget to look online for third-party reviews as well. Find out what other people who have used this pharmacy have to say about it.

Are they satisfied with the ordering and delivery process? Were the medications they received effective?

If you can find positive reviews online and everything else seems to check out (such as the license, seal of approval, etc.), you can likely order from this pharmacy safely. 

10. Use Caution with Foreign Websites

According to this online prescription resource, lots of people will order prescription online from Canadian pharmacies to save even more money on their medications.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this. However, if you want to go this route, you need to use caution to ensure you’re ordering from a legitimate pharmacy.

The same rules above still apply when you’re shopping from an online Canadian pharmacy. When you’re looking for a seal of approval, though, look for a seal from a Canadian certifying body, such as the Canadian International Pharmacy Association.

Buy Prescriptions Online Safely Today

It is possible to buy prescription online, save money, and stay safe all at the same time. The key is to take the proper precautions before you place any orders.

If you keep the tips outlined above in mind, it’ll be much easier for you to work with the right online pharmacies and avoid running into any questionable or dangerous situations.

Do you need more advice on buying prescriptions online or saving money on healthcare costs? If so, check out some of our other healthcare-related articles today to learn more.

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