Illegitimate internet pharmacies have methods to make their website looks legit and believable. As per a study conducted by the Food and Drug Administration, there are thousands of online drug stores and only 3-4% of them are genuine. It means that almost 96% of these are fake and scamming websites, selling counterfeit and fake medicines.
Why people prefer to purchase their medicines online? One reason is the ease of filling a prescription medicine order online. Most online pharmacies do not require a prescription when selling Rx medicines. All they ask from their customers is a filled out order and their payment. In addition to these, customers of online drugstores can compare prices from different online pharmacies easily, allowing them to choose the best and cheapest e-store to use.
How to Identify Legitimate Online Pharmacies?
In the US, it is illegal to order medicines outside the country and have it delivered or imported to the US. The only time it is allowed is when the person only orders needed medicine – that is a 3-month supply of their regular prescription drug (maximum of 90 tablets). Importation of medicine is also allowed in the US if the prescribed medicine is not available in the US. It means the only way to obtain the said drug is by ordering it online. However, this is not the main reason why Americans order their prescription medicines online. Their reason is the price – it is a lot cheaper if they will order from a web store.
With the popularity of internet drugstores soaring high, how can you determine if you are dealing with a legitimate online pharmacy?
- It should be associated with a legitimate local pharmacy or it has a physical address. When looking for an internet drugshop to deal with, check if they started as a local pharmacy or they started as an online business. If it is associated with a local drugstore, there is a bigger chance that it is a legit online pharmacy
- It should have a VIPPS logo. VIPPS or Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites logo is the logo provided to internet drugstores that are licensed and verified by the state agency. It means that they are legitimate and they can dispense medicines legally. The medicines they are selling are also real. If VIPPS is not present, at least check the status of the online pharmacy with legitscript.com. legitscript.com is a pharmacy monitoring website that evaluates and monitors online pharmacies legitimacy
- Check their offers, prices and promotions. An internet store that is giving away their products are mostly fake. They just want to steal your information hence they are lulling you with their low-priced products and their too good to be true promises
- Check if they have a license pharmacist on site and if they ask for a prescription for orders of prescription medicines. If they are not asking for a prescription, chances are you are dealing with a fake e-store
- Check for customer reviews. Legit online pharmacies are those e-dispensaries that have been operating for years and with years of experience come customer reviews. Check what their customers have to say to them.
Fake versus Real Online Pharmacies
No matter how hard they try, fake online pharmacies can still be spotted if you will exercise caution before refilling your prescription online.
Among the things that will give away a fake internet drugstore are as follows:
- As long as you pay, they will process your order, regardless of the type of medicine you are ordering (Rx or not)
- They cannot provide you the drug’s manufacturer information because the drug they are selling are fake
- They offer to send medicines from their international warehouse, not from a licensed physical pharmacy
- They do not have a verifiable contact information
- They do not have verifiable address or location
- They do not have an available licensed pharmacist to answer your questions, what they have is a support person (that can be the owner of the fake website too)
- They promise a secure website but you cannot find ‘https’ on their domain name
As for real online pharmacies, you can say that you are dealing with a genuine internet drugstore if they are practicing the following upon your order:
- They ask for your prescription when ordering an Rx medicine
- They only process drugs that are approved by the national drug regulatory board
- They forward your order to their physical pharmacy to fulfill your order
- They have a verifiable contact information
- They have verifiable address or location
- Their site is protected as seen in their domain name (starts with http/s)
- They have an available licensed pharmacist to answer your questions
The importance of learning whether your online pharmacy is legit or not is that you can easily determine where your medicine will be coming from. With a legit pharmacy that has a pharmacist to answer your questions, you can easily ask if the drug they are offering are from its manufacturer. With a legit pharmacy, you know that you will be taking a genuine medicine. Even if your savings is not that much, having a safe medicine delivered to your door is more important.
As mentioned, illegal internet drugstores are operating for three reasons – to steal personal information and credit card information, to dispense expired medicines, and to dispense fake medicines from different countries. Learn to identify a fake from a real internet drugstore and avoid becoming a victim of these scamming websites. If you cannot determine whether the website you are dealing with is legit or not, better go back to the traditional ordering of medicine, which is at your local pharmacy. Your other option is to be ready for spending more hours researching for a legit online pharmacy that you can trust.