A pharmacist looking at medicine and a tablet.
Online prescriptions allow you to order medicine online.

Prescriptions Online: Are They Credible?

Times have changed and you no longer need to get a prescription from your doctor, or bring it to the pharmacy and wait for them to fill the prescription. Prescriptions online make getting your medication much easier.

What Are Prescriptions Online?

You are able to purchase medicine online through many pharmacies. In the U.S., a number of pharmacies have websites that offer a limited range of products and services that you can purchase through the internet by creating an account and adding prescriptions and over the counter medications to your cart. The key is that you make these purchases through legitimate companies.

Legitimate Pharmacies

Legitimate pharmacy websites operate legally and comply with privacy legislation and other safeguards with your online purchase. In the U.S., you want to make sure the online pharmacy is FDA approved, for there are many rogue online pharmacies. Signs of rogue online companies are companies that do not require a prescription from your doctor, companies who do not have a state licence and those who offer global shipping.

How Online Pharmacy Services Are Used

Most pharmacies have a patient portal on their website. By creating an account and signing in you will be able to request a prescription or over the counter medication and pick up the medicine in person.

Any prescription medication requires a valid prescription from your doctor, which may be sent to the pharmacy from your doctor’s office or a copy can be uploaded to the site (the original is handed over to the pharmacy when the prescription is filled). Some pharmacies can arrange for prescription delivery by courier or registered mail; however, this will delay receipt of the medication if you are unable to pick it up in person. Some pharmacies have online services which include automatic prescription refills, saving you from calling in each time you need to get a refill.

How Is Getting a Prescription Online Different Than Going to the Pharmacy?

There is not a lot of difference between online prescriptions and physically going to the pharmacy. Online prescriptions are handy if you are getting a refill or taking a medication that you have had before. While you can call and have a consultation over the phone with a pharmacist, having an in-person consultation is preferred by some folks. The pharmacist will be able to tailor their advice to you as an individual, whereas information found on the website will be for the general public. Putting your order in online will not help you jump the line and get your prescription faster, but it enables you to order from the comfort of your own home and get your prescription without having to wait around.

Pros of Online Prescriptions

As more of our lives move to an online format, there are many benefits of filling your prescriptions online:

  • It’s easy and convenient with a few clicks of the keyboard.
  • Medicines are sometimes cheaper when purchased online.
  • You’re able to purchase both brand name and generic medication as well as over-the-counter medication through the online portal.
  • Medicine can be delivered right to your door (depending on the provider). If prescriptions are delivered, delivery can be fast. Same day/next day delivery is available for new and refill prescriptions.
  • Online prescriptions are a great option for those with mobility concerns, transportation issues, those who have an illness and do not feel well, and those who do not have a moment to spare.
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Cons of Online Prescriptions

When it comes to your medication, especially when shopping online, there are a few warnings you should note:

  • Some internet pharmacies are legitimate but may offer products or services that are dangerous. Some rogue online pharmacies may not have the right amount of the active ingredient you need to treat your condition. These pharmacies also may not have the right active ingredient, contain the wrong ingredients, or even contain harmful ingredients.
  • Some online pharmacies sell drugs not approved for use due to safety concerns.
  • Internet pharmacies may not provide a street address and phone number, so you do not know how to reach them if there is an issue or even verify if they are a legitimate business.
  • You may get counterfeit drugs or drugs past their expiry date.
  • There are some financial risks, as the product may not be shipped at all, or it could be stopped at the border by authorities and never be delivered.
  • Some sites offer prescription drugs without a prescription or without a Drug Identification Number (DIN).
  • It may take more than three weeks to receive your prescriptions.

How People Can Use Online Prescriptions

The advice up front is to do your research before you place your order.

Each state has regulatory compliance, so make sure you are dealing with a U.S.-based website linked to an actual pharmacy. Verify that the online pharmacy is legitimate and licensed by a U.S. regulatory authority by looking up the American business address and going to the website of the pharmacy regulatory authority to confirm that the pharmacy is licensed to operate.

All drugs approved for sale are required to have an eight-digit DIN. This number assures you that the product has been assessed and is considered safe and effective when used as directed.

Sites will have you add your medications to a shopping cart, create an account for the site, follow the steps to complete purchase, fax or email a copy of the prescription and mail a copy of the original prescription. You may also order by phone, mail, or fax depending on the company. Once the prescription is verified, they will work on safe and secure processing to ensure you get your medication

If you have a pharmacy where you visit their brick and mortar location, find out if they fill prescriptions online. You can keep giving them your business but save yourself a bunch of time by buying your prescriptions through their website instead.