Online pharmacies are becoming increasingly popular and are estimated to reach a value of over $130 billion by 2025. The question is, why do we see so many warnings about ordering medications online?
As long as you know what you’re looking for, it is perfectly safe and convenient to use an online pharmacy for medication fulfillment. The key is to verify first that your online pharmacy is legitimate before giving them any of your personal information.
What should you look for when searching for the best online pharmacy out there?
Read on to learn everything you need to know about the online pharmacy industry and how to find a safe and reliable online pharmacy for your medication needs.
What Are Online Pharmacies?
An online pharmacy is exactly what it sounds like! Online pharmacies allow you to purchase some over-the-counter medications and fill prescriptions from the comfort of your home. No more traveling and waiting in line for your prescriptions.
Why Are Online Pharmacies Growing in Popularity?
In the digital age, we are getting more and more accustomed to doing our shopping online. Nowadays, you can order a hot meal, your week’s worth of groceries, and just about any product your heart desires without ever leaving the couch. It’s no surprise that being able to order medications online is equally as appealing.
That being said, convenience is not the only reason why online pharmacies are beginning to take hold worldwide. They also tend to offer unbeatable savings, which can be especially valuable for individuals with no or limited healthcare coverage.
How does this work? Online pharmacies are operated by a smaller group of pharmacists and technicians who are able to fulfill orders all over the world from one or a small handful of locations. This cuts out quite a bit of the upfront costs for things like rent, utilities, and individual pay that traditional pharmacies are still shelling out.
Plus, online pharmacies often source the best generic medications on the market, which are always significantly cheaper than name brand medications.
(What’s the difference between generic and name brand medications? Generic medications are made using the same formulas and active ingredients as their name brand counterparts. However, generic manufacturers did not have to perform the research and testing that produced the medication, which means that their upfront costs are also significantly lower.)
How Can I Find a Safe Online Pharmacy?
Now, let’s take a look at some of the factors you need to be looking for when selecting an online pharmacy. Spoiler alert: this pharmacy checks off every box we’re going to discuss, which means that you can skip the hunt and head straight to them! If you still want to know what makes an online pharmacy safe, keep reading and develop your own discerning eye.
Just because online pharmacies don’t require you to show up in person doesn’t mean that they can cut corners and hand out medications willy-nilly. No, you are still going to need to present a prescription in order to fulfill your order for a prescription drug.
This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s important to mention because there are dangerous online “pharmacies” that sell medications with no prescription required. These should always be avoided, as the odds are good that whatever they’re selling isn’t what they say it is.
Most online pharmacies will ask that your doctor fax them a copy of your prescription. Others may allow you to send your prescription via email. Either way, you should always make sure that your online pharmacy requires prescriptions.
(Note that many online pharmacies do sell over-the-counter medications, as well. These do no require a prescription.)
Doctors and Pharmacists Available for Questions
Although you are skipping the in-person visit to a pharmacy, you may still have questions about your prescriptions. A reputable online pharmacy should put you in contact with a licensed doctor or pharmacist upon your request. They may do so over the phone or over a live online chatbox.
One of the easiest ways to ensure that you’re ordering your medication from a reputable pharmacy is to look for their certification. Different countries use different certification boards, but they must have at least one in order for you to trust them.
For example, common Canadian certification boards include NAPRA (National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities) and CIPA (Canadian International Pharmacy Association). Common New Zealand certification boards include the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand and the Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand.
When online pharmacies are certified, it takes the guesswork out of your selection process. These certification boards require online pharmacies to be run by licensed pharmacists and meet a variety of strict medical care standards.
Personal Information Protection
Finally, you want to ensure that before you enter any personal information into an online pharmacy website, your information is protected. Reputable online pharmacies will often list their cyber security programs and resources on their website. If you cannot find that information on their website, you should be able to call a hotline number and enquire.
Find the Right Online Pharmacy for You
Online pharmacies are growing in popularity and usage and it’s not surprising why. Using an online pharmacy is a convenient and cost-effective way to fill your prescription medications and purchase over the counter medications. With this guide, you can ensure that your online pharmacy is reputable and safe to use.
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