e-Commerce: Is it safe to buy medicines from an online pharmacy?

*Health experts say it is safe to do so, if you ensure you are dealing with a legitimate pharmacy, because investigations revealed sone Internet-based pharmacies often sell unapproved, counterfeit, or unsafe medicines outside the regulatory safeguards and standards

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

With inflation eroding consumers’ purchasing power, several people in many economies are looking for ways to save money anywhere they can. Some may be thinking about switching their prescription medications to an online pharmacy.

ConsumerConnect learnt that consumers can save money, but the United States (US) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises that you should approach online pharmacies with caution.

Not all Web sites that sell prescription drugs are the same, agency report said.

Over the years, the FDA for instance, has identified some unsafe online pharmacies that claim to sell prescription drugs at deeply discounted prices, sometimes without even requiring a prescription, according to report.

Investigations have shown that some of these Internet-based pharmacies often sell unapproved, counterfeit or otherwise unsafe medicines outside the safeguards and standards followed by licensed pharmacies.

It was learnt that in some cases, an unsafe online pharmacy will set up fake “storefronts” to imitate licensed pharmacies.

While many of these kinds of pharmacies are located outside the US, the FDA also discloses they will go to great lengths to make unwary consumers think their medicines come from “countries with high safety standards”.

However, the fact is, consumers may have no clue where the drugs are manufactured, according to report.

They could have been made in countries where there is no regulation or oversight.

Red flags

The FDA helps consumers judge online pharmacies for quality and safety with the helpful tips.

Here are some red flags indicating the pharmacy you’re considering isn’t quite what it appears to be.

The pharmacy does not require a doctor’s prescription

The pharmacy is not licensed in the US and by your state board of pharmacy

It does not have a licensed pharmacist on staff to answer your questions.

It ships pills that look different than what you receive at your usual pharmacy, or the medicine arrives in packaging that is broken, damaged, in a foreign language, has no expiration date, or is expired.

It offers deep discounts or prices that seem too good to be true.

It charges you for products you never ordered or received.

It does not provide clear written statements about how it protects your personal and financial information.

It sells your information to other Web sites.

What could go wrong?

The FDA, however, says consumers should avoid these pharmacies for a number of reasons.

They may have too much or too little of the drug’s active ingredient.

They could even not have any of the right ingredients.

On the flipside, a legitimate online pharmacy always requires a doctor’s prescription to purchase prescription medication.

The company should also list a physical address and telephone number infinancia

There should also be a licensed pharmacist on staff to answer your questions.

And any legitimate online pharmacy should be licensed with a state board of pharmacy.

If you find a legitimate online pharmacy, you should be able to save money on your medication.

Many of these online pharmacies are operated by major retailers, such as CVS, Costco, and Amazon.

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