Using an online or mail-order pharmacy
Many online pharmacies will also remind you
when you can order a refill to help you maintain your regimen. Some online pharmacies provide useful information about medications and diseases as well as links to medical resources such as universities, government agencies, and health associations. Some online pharmacies do not dispense drugs through licensed pharmacies. It is essential that you use pharmacies that are licensed.
Licensed pharmacies require safe
Some online pharmacies may sell medications
that can be extremely dangerous, if not taken under medical supervision. In the U.S., these drugs are known as controlled substances, such as hydrocodone, valium, or xanax. You should never order from a website offering to sell you controlled substances without a prescription or to write you a prescription for them based on your responses to an online questionnaire. Other drugs, known as restricted distribution drugs, such as such as accutane, mifeprex or thalomidare, while not controlled substances, are also very dangerous if taken without the appropriate medical supervision.
Online pharmacies, also called Internet pharmacies
are businesses that sell and market prescription drugs and other pharmacy products over the Internet and send them to consumers by mail. PharmaciesReview.com estimates that there are 3000-4000 U.S., Canadian and other legitimate online pharmacies that market and sell their products throughout the United States. These are licensed pharmacies and their affiliates that accept prescription orders online and require a valid prescription from the customer.
Online pharmacies fall
into different categories based on their prescription requirements, traditional - rx based on in-person examination, remote consultation - rx based on an online or phone consultation, none - rx not required to order prescription medication.
Most legitimate online pharmacies
require you to provide your original prescription - the one obtained from an in-person examination with your doctor. Prices at online pharmacies that have a traditional prescription requirement are often lower than at online pharmacies that offer or accept prescriptions based on remote consultations or that require no prescription at all. Pharmacies in this category include major national chains, neighborhood pharmacies in the U.S. and Canada, and large mail-order prescription fulfillment centers. Most pharmacies with a traditional prescription requirement carry the full stock of prescription drugs you would find in your neighborhood pharmacy.
Some consumers wish to purchase prescription drugs
without having to visit their physicians to obtain a prescription. There are online pharmacies, generally known as online consultation pharmacies, remote consulting pharmacies, or prescribing pharmacies, that work with physicians who review a patient's self-reported medical history and then write a prescription if deemed appropriate. Often this is done for medications referred to as "lifestyle" drugs that are non-addictive and less likely to require physician monitoring. As an advisory, the American Medical Association and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have issued statements asserting that remote consultations are a substandard medical practice when there is no prior doctor-patient relationship, one established by an in-person physical exam. U.S. states have different laws on what constitutes a valid doctor-patient medical consultation. Many states do not prohibit remote medical consultations as a basis for prescribing while a handful of states do. Two states have passed laws or granted express permissions that are directly supportive of remote medical consultations.
Some online pharmacies will sell you prescription medication
without requiring any prescription at all. Other websites that offer to sell you drugs without a prescription pose as online pharmacies for the purpose of stealing your credit card information. Ordering from such sites is exceedingly risky to your health and could lead to unauthorized use of your credit card and/or identity theft. See our list of Black List Online Pharmacies for more information.
Not all online pharmacies sell the broad range of prescription drugs
that you would expect to find in your neighborhood pharmacy. The product range of online pharmacies typically falls into one of the following categories: "full" range of medication, including prescription and over-the-counter products, as well as testing supplies and other health and beauty products just as you would find in a large pharmacy.
In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a division
of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is responsible for the regulation and safety of America's drug supply. New drug reviews, post-market surveillance, and drug recalls are carried out by the FDA. Pharmacies and pharmacists are regulated and licensed by the states. Pharmacy regulations differ a little from state-to-state but all require the presence and management of licensed pharmacists, strict enforcement of safe dispensing practices and safe storage requirements. The regulation of controlled substances, drug products with stronger and addictive ingredients (discussed in detail above), is the responsibility of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Pharmacies must have a DEA-issued license to sell controlled substances.
For people living in the U.S., the potential benefits of buying from a U.S. online pharmacy
rather than a foreign online pharmacy often include: lower prices on generics - in fact generic prices at some U.S. online pharmacies are often half the canadian price due to greater competition in the U.S. market, acceptance of prescription drug insurance to purchase drugs, lower shipping charges, easier recourse to legal action if you are wronged by the online pharmacy, and generally strong pharmaceutical and pharmacy safety regulations, although many other countries have similarly strong regulations.
If you do not have insurance, or your insurance does not cover the drugs
you need, U.S. online pharmacies are almost always more expensive than their foreign counterparts - except for generic drugs and "lifestyle" drugs, such as Viagra. Click here for a list of top rated online pharmacies verified by PharmaciesReview.com. Millions of Americans who do not have health insurance, adequate drug coverage, or any drug coverage, as well as those seeking critical medications that are not available domestically, have purchased medication from Canadian and other foreign online pharmacies.
The growth in demand for lower cost prescription drugs
among Americans, and the supply problems faced by Canadian international pharmacies, largely a product of restrictive selling practices of drug companies, has led to an increasing number of countries entering the industry. While the FDA usually does not prevent Americans from importing medication for personal use, consumers should use good judgment in determining from which countries they feel most comfortable ordering medications. The information below might be useful in determining from which countries you are willing to purchase medication.