Online shopping has blown up in recent years. There are over 2 billion online shoppers in the world. That’s more than a quarter of the entire world population.
As online shopping becomes more and more popular, it’s reaching into different markets. The online pharmacy market is forecasted to grow by 20% by 2025.
But buying medications online can be risky if you aren’t taking the proper precautions. With just these three basic steps, you can make sure that you are safe when you buy medicine online.
The Importance of Safe Shopping at Online Pharmacies
Although online pharmacies offer a great deal of convenience, they also pose a great risk if you do not take the proper precautions. A total of 96% of online pharmacies are not legitimate.
There are a number of risks involved with shopping from an illegitimate pharmacy. Those risks include:
- You may receive a medication that has not been screened for safety and efficacy
- Your condition could remain the same or even worsen
- Your medication could include harmful ingredients
- Your banking and personal information could be stolen
When your health is on the line, you will want to make sure that you are shopping smart. Follow these three tips to help you make a smart choice when using an online pharmacy.
1. Verify The Pharmacy Is Legitimate
You may not know where to start when you’re shopping for medicine online. The first thing you will want to do is verify that the online pharmacy you are using is legitimate.
Here are some tips to help you verify that a pharmacy is legitimate.
Be Doubtful Of Miracle Cures
Before buying medication online, do your research.
Online pharmacies offering medications that boast a miracle cure for a complex condition are likely not safe. If you see a medicine available that touts a cure to a condition that is not widely recognized by the medical community, take caution.
The Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA) is one source that verifies the legitimacy of online pharmacies. Pharmacies that have the CIPA seal of approval are a great place to begin.
Check for an Address and Pharmacist
Legitimate pharmacies will have a physical address for a brick-and-mortar location. The address will usually be available on the pharmacy’s website. Check towards the very bottom of the page or on their contact page.
Pharmacies are also required to have a licensed pharmacist available for you to talk to. Check that they have their license number and contact information listed.
If you have any questions, call the pharmacist and ask. They can answer questions about potential side effects and drug interactions.
If you aren’t able to easily track down this information, call the number for the pharmacy. Sometimes this information is available, but not easy to find online. When speaking to them on the phone, ask for their physical address and the license number of their pharmacist on staff.
Be Wary of Price
If a medication’s price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Illegitimate pharmacies will often offer extreme discounts on medications. This is to buy from their website.
Genuine pharmacies do offer discounts on medications at times. However, extreme discounts might indicate that the medication is not screened for quality.
See these discounts as a warning sign that encourages you to dig a little bit deeper to verify that the pharmacy is safe.
Use a Prescription From a Doctor
Filling a prescription requires a valid prescription from a doctor or other licensed health care professional.
Some online pharmacies also sell over-the-counter (OTC) medications. These do not require a prescription, so you will not need one to buy these medications.
But, you should not be able to buy prescription medications without a valid prescription. If the website does not ask for one, the pharmacy is likely illegitimate. The medication may even be unsafe or ineffective.
2. Make Sure Your Personal Information Is Secure
When buying medicine at an online pharmacy, you will also want to make sure that your personal information is safe.
When you’re filling a prescription online, you are likely sharing your personal contact information, banking information, and maybe even additional health information. Using an unsafe pharmacy means that this information could be at risk.
Pharmacies that use SSL encryption on their website are a good start. SSL encryption means that your information is safe from hacking attempts. You will know that the website you are on is using SSL encryption if there is a padlock icon next to the URL in your web browser.
If the security of your personal information is important to you when you’re filling a prescription online, click for more.
3. When in Doubt, Ask Your Doctor
With all matters regarding your health, your doctor is always a trusted source of knowledge.
If you are unsure if a medication is legitimate, try calling your doctor and asking for their professional opinion. This can be especially helpful if you are considering a medication that is offering treatment that is not widely recognized.
Your doctor may also know of a verified online pharmacy that they recommend. It is advisable to heed their advice when shopping for medicine online.
It may mean foregoing an appealing discount or a miracle cure from an online pharmacy that you can’t verify. However, it will keep you safe and healthy.
If you do purchase medications online without a prescription, whether they are OTC or not, be sure to let your doctor know. This allows your doctor to safely evaluate any potential drug interactions or side effects while they are treating you.
Buy Medicine Online Safely and Securely
There are many online pharmacies that are legitimate and are able to offer the convenience of filling prescriptions online.
The next time you buy medicine online, you can do so knowing that you are getting a legitimate and safe medication. Simply follow the three steps outlined in this article to practice safe shopping.
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