Online shopping is highly efficient and offers convenience to consumers regardless of their place in the world. Buyers are shifting towards the online sourcing of their products considering the vast choices for what they need and the no-effort shopping and selecting of the items compared to shopping at local shops.
Although the internet is beneficial to most of us consumers, we cannot discard the fact that the web is volatile place in terms of safety. Customers with no knowledge whatsoever of scammers, scam sites, and hackers are at risk of getting their money or financial information stolen whenever they shop online.
Medicines nowadays are also sourced online by an increasing population of consumers, especially those individuals who are tired of the steep prices of the same medicines at local pharmacies. Despite international shipping taking more or less a month, customers are willing to wait for the slow shipments so they can maximize their savings. Other individuals choose web pharmacies over brick and mortar drugstores to save face and avert the social stigma associated with their prescription products.
Yes, shopping medicines at online pharmacies is substantially beneficial, customers should be aware of the risks they may be facing when shopping online.
Personal or Safety Risks
Shopping online puts consumers in a vulnerable position since they are sharing their sensitive financial information on the web.
Buyers are at risk of the following when shopping for their medicines online:
- Consumers are at risk of having their financial information stolen.
Consumers who are not careful in choosing the right online store to shop from may be at risk of getting their financial details stolen.
An HTTPS Secure Website
Stores that are not SSL secured (without the https:// symbol or without the padlock symbol on their web addresses) are putting consumers at risk for financial information or identity theft. In some cases where customers shopped from illicit stores, the buyers reported fishy shopping charges on their credit cards perpetrated by the scammers who stole their financial details.
To avoid encountering this problem, consumers are advised to shop only at https:// secured websites. Apart from this, consumers are also encouraged to use a separate online shopping credit card so hackers won’t be able to access their main accounts and siphon money. Debit cards are also not advisable whenever shopping online because credit card charges are impossible to dispute than credit card charges.
- Apart from getting their financial information stolen, consumers are also at risk for viruses, keyloggers, and other online inflicted pc problems.
Buyers who are not careful will not only have their details stolen from them—they may also contract pc viruses, malware, or even sent keyloggers. These do not only put your personal information at risk—these also can harm your computer and cost you unnecessary repair bills.
It is important for buyers to inoculate their PCs with antivirus, anti-malware, and anti-spyware software. Some PCs come with built-in protection but for those without these, these programs are easily downloadable online and are free to use. However, it pays to spend a little more for added PC protection, especially for consumers with their lives (work) revolving online.
Besides the safety-related risks in purchasing medicines online, consumers can also encounter health risks while shopping for their medicines from the web.
Here are some of the major health concerns related to shopping for medicines online:
- Getting the wrong medicines.
Some stores may send you the wrong medicines. In most cases, using the wrong medicines can be avoided by reading the packages carefully—but in some instances where shops send unlabelled products, it may be impossible to sort medicines and take the correct ones.
- Getting ineffective products.
Scam online shops sometimes send fake medicines instead of not sending anything at all. However, some medicines sent by illicit stores are only placebo and ineffective to use for any medical condition.
- Getting medicines with a different active ingredient dose.
Illegal online pharmacies are incapable of checking their products’ origins and do not care about the outcome of vending substandard medicines to the consumers.
In some instances, illegal shops ship medicines with the correct active ingredient but contain too much or too little of the active ingredient. If the drug contains too little, the drug will just be ineffective; however, if the medication contains too much of the active content, then the consumers are at risk of getting intensified adverse events (or eventually die) due to the surplus of the drug concentration.
- Getting medicines with a different or a hidden active ingredient.
One of the major problems possible in sourcing medicines online is getting medicines with a different active ingredient than advertised. This complicates things especially in patients with several existing medical conditions in which a specific active ingredient can cause exacerbation, allergic reaction, or side effects.
Unlawful shops may also vend products claiming to be “herbal” and “all-natural” but actually contain pharmaceutical-grade ingredients. Make sure to check FDA reports on the products you’re eyeing and verify if the store you’re purchasing from is legitimately operating or not.
The best way to avoid encountering these health risks is doing research before resolving to use any online drugstore. Make sure to check reviews, complaints, blog references, and other materials related to an online drugstore’s operation before using the shop. Don’t be fooled by shop’s appearance—a store may look good and still put you at risk; instead, constantly verify a shop’s claims before taking them as the truth.
Shopping medicines online is still highly beneficial—we are not discouraging you from using the web for your medicines. However, we are advising you to be more careful when it comes to choosing shops to use online, considering the alarming number of scammers on the web. Risks in shopping online exist, but you can minimize them by being careful and doing safety checks as a consumer.