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How to Know If an Online Prescription Store Is Legitimate

Before you buy from an online pharmacy, ensure they meet these guidelines. Ordering from a legitimate online pharmacy has huge benefits.

If you’re considering ordering your prescription medications online, you’ll want to be sure to know which online pharmacies are legitimate and which are not. Unfortunately, while there are many legitimate online pharmacies out there, there are also many that aren’t safe, and it’s important to know which are which. Your health and safety should always be top of mind whenever ordering medication from an online pharmacy.

There are several things to look for before deciding whether or not to order from an online pharmacy. First and foremost, you want to make sure that the online prescription store is based in the United States, as the FDA will oversee them. However, this isn’t the only thing to look into before ordering your prescriptions online.

The NABP accredits all pharmacies in the United States, including online prescription stores. The Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) is a program dedicated solely to overseeing these online stores, ensuring that they adhere to government compliance and practice standards. An online pharmacy that is VIPPS certified will usually have the verification logo displayed prominently on their site. If you’re still unsure, you can verify the pharmacy yourself using VIPPS’s online portal.

LegitScript is a compliance organization that oversees operations of high-risk online businesses, particularly those in the healthcare field. The company ensures that healthcare providers, such as online pharmacies, operate legitimately. LegitScript certification provides the pharmacy with permission to accept credit card payments and partake in internet advertising. Visa and Mastercard, for example, require that a healthcare organization such as an online pharmacy be LegitScript certified to accept payment from their branded cards.

In addition to national standards, all pharmacies must be approved by the state in which they are based. Online prescription stores are no exception. Each of the 50 U.S. states has its own Pharmaceutical Board that regulates licensing, renewals, and employee verifications. Part of the board’s job is to ensure that the pharmacists and technicians fulfilling your prescription orders are licensed to do so.

Did you find an online pharmacy that states “No Doctor Prescription Required”? If so, stay away. Legitimate online pharmacies all require prescriptions from licensed doctors, and cannot proceed to fill a medication without one, as per federal law.

If an online prescription store is offering to circumvent this law, they are not in compliance with national standards. Doing business with them may put your safety at risk. The concept is similar to buying prescriptions off the street.

You don’t know where they really come from or what’s really in them if the FDA doesn’t regulate the store. Not knowing where your medication came from or what the ingredients are is a particularly serious issue, as drug interactions and allergic reactions can be potentially fatal.

Even if a pharmacy operates online, it still must have a physical address. If you cannot find this address on the pharmacy’s website, or they won’t provide it to you by phone, this is a major red flag. Having a physical address is how you can verify the company is based in the United States, and that their state board approves them. You should be able to confirm that the address they provide you is real through NABP/VIPPS.

Transparency is a huge indicator of whether or not an online prescription store is legit. Here are some additional, and just as important, factors to look for before ordering from an online pharmacy:

  • Do they have a Customer Service phone number listed? If so, who picks up when you call?
  • Do they provide information on how you can speak with a licensed pharmacist?
  • Do they have a page on their website dedicated to licensure and compliance?
  • Do they have a HIPAA notice posted on their website?
  • Do they have regulations regarding Schedule II drugs as per DEA regulations?
  • Do they have information posted regarding private insurance and Medicaid/Medicare?
  • Do they provide drug manufacturer information?
  • Are there customer reviews or testimonials of the online pharmacy?
  • When you run an online search on their name, do any warnings come up?

While this list is not comprehensive, it’s a great starting point on how to know if an online prescription store is legitimate or not. The best way to ensure that the mail order pharmacy you’re using is safe and secure is to check through VIPPS’s online portal.

Ordering prescription medication through a mail-order pharmacy can have huge benefits once you’ve ensured that the prescription store is legitimate. Online pharmacies are often able to beat in-store prices, and you will have the convenience of having your medications delivered right to your door. Better yet, you can shop your prescription prices before you decide to buy.


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