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Around 70% of American’s take at least one prescription medication.
But, whether you’re on prescriptions or not, there comes a time when everyone needs medication. An option that’s growing in popularity is getting online medication from virtual pharmacies.
But is an online pharmacy safe, and do you get a valid prescription? Before putting unknown drugs into your body, make sure you know the facts.
Read on to find out if you can buy medication safely online.
What Are Online Pharmacies?
There are four types of online pharmacies that you can shop with. A simple browse through their webpage should tell you which type of pharmacy it is.
1. Pharmacy Benefits Manager (PBM)
A PBM is a third-party administrative service for prescription drugs provided by health insurance.
Your health insurance company will hire a PBM to handle any price negotiations and drug distribution. The PBM will then communicate with you to advise on the appropriate prescriptions for you.
These licensed pharmacies are all approved by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.
2. Legitimate Local Pharmacies
Legitimate local pharmacies, as the name suggests, are a safe bet. These pharmacies are located in the same country that they ship to and are regulated by local dispensing laws.
If you shop at an online local pharmacy, they’ll be bound to the same sorts of laws that an in-person pharmacy would be.
3. Legitimate International Pharmacies
International pharmacies are licensed and regulated by the country in which they are located. However, these regulations may be more or less stringent than your home state.
So, you may be able to obtain legitimate medications through these pharmacies that you couldn’t at home. However, it’s essential to check how trustworthy that country’s healthcare system is to avoid counterfeit drugs being shipped to you.
In America, it is illegal to buy controlled substances from these overseas pharmacies. If you order controlled drugs for personal use, you are unlikely to be prosecuted, but U.S. Customs and Border Protection may seize them.
If your package is intercepted and doesn’t have a valid prescription, U.S. Customs officers will either destroy it or send it back to the original sender.
4. Illegal Pharmacies
The last type of pharmacy is the underground, or illegal, pharmacy. These aren’t always easy to spot because they’ll often lie about their status on their website.
If you order from an illegal pharmacy, it is highly likely that you’ll receive unlawful, counterfeit, or out-of-date medication.
Advantages of Online Pharmacies
Online pharmacies are a valuable tool for many Americans. The main benefit is the ease of home delivery—in a pandemic-ridden world, many people would prefer to minimize their time around others.
Furthermore, doctor’s offices and pharmacies have a high exposure rate to illness and disease, so ordering from your home can limit your risk of contracting an infection.
Although useful for many, home delivery is essential for some citizens. Those with low mobility or chronic disease are sometimes unable to visit doctors or pharmacies, so this service is invaluable to these users.
If you find a legitimate online pharmacy, you can set up a standing order to deliver your medication each month with no stress or difficulty. Your prescription will arrive at your door on the same day each month, and you can forget about it.
Finally, online pharmacies tend to offer cheaper deals than in-person pharmacies. In America, where healthcare is undoubtedly expensive, this is a valuable service.
Disadvantages of Online Pharmacies
The main concern about online pharmacies is knowing whether they’re legal or not. With illegal pharmacies doing their best to appear legitimate, it’s not always easy to tell.
When you order online, there’s a risk of receiving dangerous, unregulated, or ineffective medicine. Furthermore, the lack of in-person assessment means that people can succumb to addiction easier than if they visited their doctor.
Finally, you need to consider the shipping method. Many drugs, such as insulin, must be stored at specific temperatures. You have no control over the shipping temperature of your medication, so it may be ineffective by the time it gets to you.
How to Choose an Online Pharmacy
If you’re shopping for online medication, you need to do your research first to check it’s safe.
There are two programs that the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy uses to check a pharmacy’s legitimacy. The first is called VIPPS—this is a system created in 1999 that lists each of the approved pharmacies.
The other system is called LegitScript—this is a database that identifies both licensed and illegal pharmacies. You can check both of these databases to see whether your pharmacy of choice is legitimate.
Next, you should check the reviews for your pharmacy. When it comes to medication, it’s essential that it arrives on time and in good condition. So, check their reviews and whether they have a money-back guarantee.
The main benefit of choosing an online pharmacy is that it takes the stress away, so make sure that you choose a reputable and legitimate store.
Get Safe Online Medication
So that’s everything you needed to know about online medication before you made a purchase. Despite there being a large amount of unsafe and unregulated pharmacies, there are also many legitimate pharmacies approved by the FDA.
So, don’t feel anxious when buying online medicine; just make sure your pharmacy of choice is reputable and government-approved.
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