Health

How to Safely Purchase Medicine Online for Beginners

About 25% of online shoppers buy their medication online. With COVID-19 still a concern, buying from online pharmacies can help you stay safe. You won’t have to risk your health visiting your local pharmacy.

Instead, you can have the medications you need delivered straight to your door.

Don’t rush to start shopping yet, though. Only 4% of online pharmacies operate legally. You need to learn how to safely purchase medicine online.

Otherwise, you could purchase your medication from an unlicensed, illegal pharmacy. The medication you receive might contain harmful fillers. 

Don’t become the victim of a scam! Instead, use these 10 tips for buying from online pharmacies safely. With these tips, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you made a smart choice.

Start shopping with these 10 easy tips today!

1. Know What You Need

Do you know which medications you need? Don’t rush to head online to start buying from online pharmacies yet. Instead, consider the medications you’re taking.

Over 131 million people already take medications. Your health is unlike anyone else’s, though. You need to make decisions with your health goals in mind.

Are you trying to treat a serious medical condition? Research the medications you’re already taking.

Make a list of their potential side effects. Do they interact with any medications? Is there a brand-name version of that medication you can take?

Gathering this information will help you in the next step. You can learn more about your medication and health. Becoming more informed will make you a savvy shopper.

While you’re online, you might come across eye-catching marketing messages. Online pharmacies will try to tempt you into trying medications you don’t need. To avoid making costly mistakes, stick to your list.

Only take medications a doctor prescribed. You don’t want to purchase a medication that can do more harm than good.

Marketing messages will try to use your fears against you. For example, maybe you’ve started feeling fatigued more often. You don’t need medication to relieve every symptom.

Instead, schedule an appointment with your doctor. Let them know about the symptoms you’re experiencing. They’ll determine if you need to make lifestyle changes before prescribing medications. 

2. Consult a Doctor

Before learning how to safely purchase medicine online, schedule an appointment with your doctor. Give them the list of medications, vitamins, and supplements you’re currently taking.

Don’t forget to discuss any symptoms you’re experiencing. Your doctor might recognize you have a serious medical condition. Maybe you’ve developed a vitamin deficiency. 

They can help you make informed decisions moving forward.

First, your doctor might suggest a blood test. A blood test will help them recognize if you have a serious medical condition. It can also help them check for vitamin deficiencies.

Your blood work can help them determine which medications you do or don’t need. They could help you make changes to your current medicine protocol.

Next, talk to your doctor about your daily habits. Are you on a specific diet? Many vegetarians and vegans are vitamin B12 deficient. 

Vitamin B12 deficiency could cause:

  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Pale skin
  • Constipation, loss of appetite, gas, diarrhea
  • Vision loss
  • Mental problems (behavioral changes, memory loss, depression)
  • A smooth tongue
  • Nerve problems (numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, problems walking)
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath

Let your doctor know if you’re experiencing these symptoms. They might determine you need vitamins, not medication. Your diet could indicate you’re missing certain vitamins and minerals that could impact your health.

Do you exercise daily? Does your family have a history of medical conditions? Are you at risk for a serious condition in the future?

Talk to your doctor about the medications you’re currently taking. Do you need every medication on your list? Could any have interactions with others?

Discuss the potential side effects of medicine you’re taking, too. 

3. Ask for Help

While at your doctor’s appointment, don’t hesitate to ask them for help. They might know a reputable online pharmacy you can shop from.

Speaking with a licensed physician can help you gather helpful insights. Otherwise, you might make assumptions or potentially costly mistakes. Your doctor will help you make choices that will accomplish your health goals.

Will any of the medications you’re taking interact with foods or vitamins? Should you take your medication on an empty or full stomach? What time should you take your medication?

Ask how often you should take each medicine, too.

Does your doctor want to prescribe a new medication? Don’t forget to ask about the potential side effects and interactions.

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Asking these questions will help you make an informed plan. You can avoid costly or even dangerous mistakes.  

4. Identify Scams

If you want to learn how to safely purchase medicine online, you’ll need to learn how to spot scams.

Remember, only 4% of online pharmacies are legally operating. While searching for an online pharmacy, you’ll likely come across a few disreputable ones. 

If you start buying from online pharmacies that operate illegally, you could put your health at risk. Remember, some medications contain harmful fillers. A fack medication won’t solve your health concerns, either.

In fact, these pharmacies could put more than your health at risk. They might steal your identity or credit card information. They could send a virus to your computer, too.

Then, they might start selling your private information to others.

Thankfully, there are a few ways you can learn to identify a scam. Don’t make purchases from online pharmacies that:

  • Aren’t licensed by a health authority
  • Don’t require a valid prescription from a medical professional
  • Will ship your medication from a foreign country
  • Often sends you spam mail
  • Offers cheap prescription medications for a discount price
  • Seems too good to be true

If it seems too good to be true, chances are, it is.

A legal, legitimate pharmacy will require a prescription. They’ll also have someone you can speak with.

A scam website, however, will try to trick you. They’ll pretend to offer medications at a discount to draw you in. Remember, you don’t have to believe everything you read online.

Instead, remain attentive before you make your first purchase. 

Social Media Scams

Around 95% of “online pharmacies” selling prescription medications operate illegally. These websites often use social media to draw in customers. In fact, almost 40% of social media posts promoting medications link to illegitimate pharmacies online.

Don’t believe every advertisement you come across. Remember, illegitimate pharmacies will try to hook you any way they can. They’ll even offer major discounts to encourage you to make a purchase.

Prioritize your health and safety, not your budget. After all, you want your medications to benefit your health.

Believing these ads could hurt your health instead.

2. Read the Label

Before you start buying from online pharmacies, take the time to read the labels on products you’re interested in.

First, compare prices. Visit at least three online pharmacies. See if they have the medication you need.

Don’t choose the website with the lowest prices. Remember, if it’s too good to be true, it likely is. Comparing prices will help you determine the average.

If the price seems too low, mark that pharmacy off your list.

These pharmacies are trying to entice buyers by cutting their prices. That doesn’t mean they’re sending legit medications, though.

As you look at the labels on products, avoid any outlandish claims you see. For example, a medication might promise immediate results. Maybe they claim they’re a “cure-all” for your condition.

Don’t believe everything you read. Stick to your doctor’s instructions.

If the website and label make outlandish claims, they’re likely trying to draw you in. These pharmacies likely don’t have your best interests in mind.

6. Send a Script

The FDA regulates prescription medications in the US. They can’t track every imported product, though. In other words, not every product that arrives in the US is safe for consumption.

Remember, an online pharmacy should ask for your prescription. Why? It ensures they send the right medication.

If any online pharmacy doesn’t ask for a doctor’s prescription, keep searching.

Most online pharmacies are operating illegally, without FDA approval. These pharmacies pop up overnight and start scamming customers.

Then, they disappear before anyone has a chance to file a complaint.

You likely won’t get your money back if these online pharmacies disappear.

Sending your prescription will increase the likelihood you’ll receive the right medication. Remember, you want to make your health and safety a priority.

Does the website offer access to a licensed pharmacist you can speak to? Look for a phone number or chat function on the site. If there’s no one you can speak with, look for another pharmacy.

7. Check Their Website

You can learn a lot from each pharmacy’s website, too.

First, look for a privacy policy. You’ll likely find the policy in the website’s footer. A privacy policy indicates the company won’t abuse your private information.

Look at the URL, too. Does “.pharmacy” appear at the end of the domain name? Illegitimate pharmacies can’t fake the “.pharmacy” domain.

You can check websites that end with “.pharmacy.”

The National Board of Pharmacies (NABP) checks websites to ensure they follow federal and state procedures. If they’re deemed legit, they can earn the “.pharmacy” domain name. 

Make sure the website is secure before you start making purchases, too. You should see “HTTPS” and a lock in front of the URL. “HTTPS” means the website has an SSL certificate.

These websites are secure, meaning hackers can’t steal and sell your private information.

Don’t enter your address, credit card information, or name on a website unless it’s secure.

8. Use the Right Tools

With so many illegal online pharmacies around, organizations like NABP have developed tools to help shoppers like you. You can use these tools to choose a reputable online pharmacy.

First, head over to the NABP website. NABP screens pharmacies. Choosing an NABP-approved pharmacy will give you peace of mind.

You’ll know that pharmacy follows the proper standards and protocols.

As you visit different online pharmacies, check for the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS®) Seal. The seal will help you recognize which online pharmacies are legitimate.

A pharmacy with this seal has likely met the NABP’s licensure requirements and operational standards.

Unfortunately, some illegitimate online pharmacies have started to steal the seal. If you want to safely purchase medicine online, go to the NABP website. Make sure the pharmacy appears on their approved list.

Consider visiting the FDA website, too.

Does the pharmacy you’re interested in have a complaint filed against them? Cross that pharmacy off your list.

Do you want to purchase medications from a Canada-based pharmacy? You can rely on the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA) instead. Sites with CIPA approval operate safely and meet proper standards. 

Gathering the right tools will make your search more effective. You’ll have peace of mind knowing you’ve chosen a safe online pharmacy. 

9. Call the Insurance Company

You can also make a more informed decision about which pharmacy to shop from by contacting your insurance company.

First, ask if your medical coverage plan covers the cost of your medications. They might have a list of online pharmacies you can trust. Their list can help you save money and shop safely.

Unfortunately, insurance companies can’t review every pharmacy online. Remember, many pop up and disappear within 24 hours.

Look at the pharmacies the insurance company has vetted. Compare those pharmacies to the NABP-approved list. Finding pharmacies on both lists will give you peace of mind. 

10. Learn From Others

You can learn from other people’s experiences to avoid making costly mistakes. While you’re online, look for online customer reviews for each pharmacy. What do they have to say about the pharmacies they’ve shopped from?

You can visit PharmacyChecker to find online customer reviews. Their website checks both local and foreign pharmacies.

You can also check the NABP’s Not Recommended Sites list. Their list has already reviewed over 11,000 sites online. These sites don’t operate under compliance with general or state laws.

About 95% of these sites fail to remain compliant.

Safety First: 10 Tips to Help You Safely Purchase Medicine Online

Ready to find the medications you need? Use these 10 tips to safely purchase medicine online. With these tips, you can buy your medications without leaving home!

You can protect yourself from COVID and improve your health with safe medications.

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Explore our latest guides today to get started.

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