Can You Buy Prescription Drugs Online Safely from an Online Pharmacy or Pharmacy Referral Service?

Like many Americans, you may have heard of online pharmacies and pharmacy referral services as possible sources for pharmaceutical care, but you may not be sure if they’re right for you. You’ve most likely heard of ones that are based outside of the United States in Canada.

An online source for anything, though, especially one from outside your country, may make you feel uneasy. But online pharmacies and pharmacy referral services can be just as safe and reliable as your regular brick-and-mortar pharmacy.

But, why go with either in the first place? Well, consider the many benefits they offer customers, such as:

  • Accessibility: Online pharmacies and pharmacy referral services allow people with limited mobility and those who live in remote areas better access to pharmaceutical services.
  • Lower costs: People looking for direct delivery of prescription drugs will find all of this for a much lower cost at an online pharmacy or pharmacy referral service compared to a brick-and-mortar institution.
  • Better pricing: As an online customer, you can buy drugs at an inexpensive rate thanks to more affordable, yet authoritative sources and delivery discounts.

What is an online pharmacy or pharmacy referral service?

Typically, an online pharmacy or pharmacy referral service is a pharmaceutical website that works as a prescription drug supplier, helping customers over the Internet. Despite having a different type of presence, this sort of online service can still supply the same quality of prescription drugs that your local pharmacy would.

Not all such websites work the same. For example, Canada Med Pharmacy is an international and Canadian pharmacy referral service that simply connects patients with affordable sources for their drugs. Patients can even request which country their drugs come from, and as long as the product is available, Canada Med Pharmacy will honor that request.

It is good to note, though, that there are also online pharmacies that focus more on giving you remote access to a doctor. Often known as online consultation pharmacies, remote consulting pharmacies, or prescribing pharmacies, these online services are there to get you in touch with a doctor online. Once connected, the doctor reviews your self-reported medical history and determines whether or not you are eligible for a prescription for your current condition.

While getting in touch with a doctor remotely doesn’t sound too bad if you know the doctor is licensed, you should still be cautious. Doctors who act as online prescribers may seem incredibly helpful. But according to the United States’ federal law, this can be problematic.

Common Signs that an Online Pharmacy Might Not Be Authentic

It can still be tricky to tell if you have found a safe website. And not all online pharmacies or pharmacy referral services will have your best interests in mind. Avoid falling for an inauthentic online service by keeping an eye out for the following signs:

  • The service doesn’t ask for a prescription. Perhaps you’ve stumbled across a promising-looking online pharmacy that offers a remote doctor to prescribe you with medications. Or maybe it’s one that allows you to order prescription drugs simply based on your answering an online questionnaire. In either case, if the online service you’re looking at doesn’t ask for a prescription, there’s a high chance you’ll end up with the wrong dose of medication or even just a fake substitute.
  • You can’t see an address on their website. If there’s no indication of how to track the online service through an address like one for a P.O. Box, it could be a sign that they’d prefer to remain hidden from customers and regulators. This may mean that they tend to engage in illegal activities that could be to your detriment.
  • They sell narcotics or other controlled substances without prescriptions. Any online service should request your prescription form before offering you controlled substances for ordering. It’s illegal to do otherwise, and it could mean that they act on other illegal opportunities.

So, if you see any online pharmacies with these features, you’d be better off steering clear from them to avoid any possible encounters with pharmaceutical scams.

How to Be Sure that You’re Working with a Safe Online Pharmaceutical Service

Now that you have a better idea on how you can spot an inauthentic online pharmacy and pharmacy referral service website, what’s the best way to go about looking for an authentic one? Look for the following signs. 

  • The service is certified by reliable organizations like the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA). According to the Campaign for Personal Prescription Importation, an online pharmacy or pharmacy referral service that’s been certified by an authentic source will have to go through periodic inspections to make sure they’re as safe as possible for customers.
  • Your privacy and confidentiality is prioritized. Licensed pharmaceutical websites are required to provide some form of data encryption to keep all of your private and critical information secure.
  • You can verify their authenticity. If the website has gone through some sort of authentication process through an organization like CIPA, you should be able to find them by visiting CIPA or checking other online pharmacy verification sites.

If the website you’re looking at meets these requirements, there is a good chance you'll be safe from pharmaceutical fraud.

So, are online pharmaceutical services safe?

In short, the answer to this is yes!

So long as you stick to an authentic, licensed online pharmaceutical service that does not create prescriptions for you, you can expect to receive a level of quality and care that you would from your local pharmacy. 

Will I be getting the same medicine?

While you can get exactly the same drugs online as you would from your local pharmacy, brand-name pills may sometimes look different. This is only because of how brands present themselves in different countries. Brand-name medications are still manufactured in the same way with the same active ingredients.

Do online pharmacies and pharmacy referral services work with my doctor?

An authentic online pharmaceutical service should work with your doctor. Much like with your typical brick-and-mortar pharmacy, you’ll provide the online pharmacy or pharmacy referral service with your doctor’s prescription. Your doctor should also feel welcome to ask the online service any questions if necessary.

Would a Canadian pharmacy provide cheaper prescription drugs?

It’s perfectly valid to wonder if an online pharmacy or a Canadian pharmacy referral service online would help you afford your prescription. The pharmaceutical service might not come from your country, but that doesn’t necessarily make it less trustworthy. In fact, in many cases, a Canadian pharmacy will be able to help lift the burden of rising health-care costs that you and many other Americans feel.

Unlike the increasingly expensive cost of prescriptions found in America, Canada’s pharmaceutical prices remain much more affordable. This is because of the price controls that the Canadian government places on prescription drugs. These controls allow Canadian pharmacies to sell prescription drugs at a lower price. In some cases, there may even be prescription drugs that have a generic alternative in Canada that has yet to be offered in the United States.

So, if you’re finding it too costly to afford your prescription drugs back home, you should strongly consider the benefits that online Canadian pharmaceutical services can offer you.

DISCLAIMER: The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.