7 Safety Precautions to Observe When Buying Medication Online


People say the only certain things in life are death and taxes. They ought to add ever-increasing drug costs to that list of life’s macabre certainties. 

The cost of nondurable medical goods has increased by 183 percent and the cost of prescription drugs increased by about 104 percent in the U.S. from 1990 to 2017, according to the Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker

That means the price for things like medical sundries and nonprescription drugs as well as prescription drugs nearly tripled and more than doubled, respectively, over 30 years or so. 

What does that mean? It means that the prices for the medications people need to take to live life are increasing and there is no sign of those costs decreasing. 

That leaves many looking to the Internet for answers. A quick Google search will turn up several “cheap drugs” that are just a click and a credit card away. 

But, take caution. Online pharmacies may not be what they appear. Even if they are established with good intentions, not many countries in the world have nearly as strict or aggressive of a government agency ensuring the effectiveness and purity of drugs as the U.S.’s Food and Drug Administration. 

So, here are seven tips to keep you safe when buying medication online.

Beware of the Online Doctor

This first one is about keeping you out of jail. 

A mainstay of online pharmacies that claim they can sell prescription drugs cheaply is an in-house physician that can write the prescription based on input from a questionnaire and maybe a phone call. 

This is not OK.

Consider the following from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s website: “Prescriptions written by cyber doctors relying on online questionnaires are not legitimate under the law. Buying controlled substances online without a valid prescription may be punishable by imprisonment under Federal law.” 

The DEA is the federal government’s primary agency to oversee civil and criminal law enforcement over controlled substances. 

Be sure to get a prescription from a primary care provider, e.g. a nurse practitioner or a physician. 

Do a Little Sleuthing

A little extra web searching could save a great deal of trouble when buying medication online.

First, check out the website and try to find more information like contact information, addresses or other identifying information. If you can’t find any of that—bounce.

If you do, try to verify that information is true googling it. If the contact address is someone’s house or in an apartment complex—bounce. 

If you can find a corporation name (something that ends in Corp., Inc. or LLC) and an address with a state, go to the state’s secretary of state’s or equivalent agency’s website to see if that corporation is registered in that state. If the corporation is not registered, or of its in bad standing with the state, that means the business might be illegitimate. 

Avoid Shopping Overseas

One reason why gangs and criminals tend to include shipping in their schemes is that it’s really hard for law enforcement to search for contraband with any thoroughness without slowing down commerce and hurting business. 

Simply put, there is just so much being shipped across the planet that the cops can’t search it all. 

That means there is greater space for bad actors to hawk their wares abroad. Further, the infinity of the Internet is nearly impossible to scour of criminals. 

Putting the two together — ordering medication online from an over-the-seas pharmacy — opens up all kinds of risk. 

So, Call Me Maybe

This is an extension of sleuthing point but deserves its own space. 

A legitimate pharmacy will include contact information for an on-staff, licensed pharmacist. Call the pharmacy and ask to speak with the pharmacist. If the pharmacist is not available (and even if they are), ask for the pharmacist’s provider number and in what state they are licensed. You can check that out online as well. 

Often, legitimate pharmacies will display the provider number of their pharmacist on the site to show prospective customers that their operation is legit. 

Talk to Your Doctor About Your Meds

It’s a question that your doctor will invariably ask when you visit: what medications are you taking. If you decided to buy medication online without the physician’s knowledge, they may inadvertently prescribe a medication that would have a bad reaction with the first medication. 

Tell them about where you buy your drugs as well. They will be able to guide what could be the better option for you. 

Use Your Gut and Your Brain When Buying Medication Online

Or to put it another way: use commonsense. 

Is what the online pharmacy telling too good to be true? Does the website seem poorly put together like it was an afterthought? Does the website let you buy drugs without a prescription when one is required? 

These are a few signs that the online pharmacy is not legit. 

If you can’t see where the drugs are coming from, you can’t know what kind of conditions the drugs are being handled in. While it’s not conclusive, online pharmacies that don’t invest in their website probably don’t invest in other areas to ensure the operation is legit. 

Variable Prices 

Your drug costs will be different than other based your coverage through a health insurance plan. So, if an online pharmacy is cash-only or simply doesn’t take insurance is a sign that they don’t any additional scrutiny. Further, many insurers and many pharmacies have agreements where people can get certain medications for free or at a reduced price. 

Happy Online Shopping

You really can find and buy anything online. But we hope that you will stay safe as you look for the best medications for you at the price you want when buying medication online. 

Also, be sure to check out or other articles about ordering things online such as our how-to on how to buy vape products and CBD oil online. 

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