Five tips for choosing an online pharmacy

eDrugSearch.com is proud of the fact that, largely through this blog and the media attention our Web site has achieved, we’ve received a steadily increasing number of e-mails and phone calls from consumers seeking information about ordering drugs safely online.

Although the Internet can be a great tool for saving money on your prescription medications, it must be approached with caution — and unfortunately, this is partly our own government’s fault. Until the FDA stops wasting its enforcement efforts on licensed, legitimate Canadian pharmacies and starts focusing on the real problem of rogue pharmacies, consumers must be careful in selecting the online pharmacies they patronize.

If you know what to look for, however, finding a trustworthy Internet pharmacy isn’t that difficult. Here are eDrugSearch.com’s five tips for choosing an online pharmacy:

1) Verify that the pharmacy has a valid license. Every online pharmacy should have a license in its home state or, in the case of Canada, province. Locate the pharmacy’s license number on its Web site and the name of the regulatory agency that granted the license. Call or e-mail the regulatory agency to confirm the license’s authenticity.

2) Look for the seal of one of the major verification authorities. Legitimate online pharmacies, in virtually every case, have been awarded a membership seal by one of the following third-party organizations: IMPAC, CIPA, VIPPS,  MIPA, or the NCPA. Rogue pharmacies, however, sometimes display these seals fraudulently. Therefore, it is important to confirm membership, which can generally be achieved through a simple search on the verification authority’s Web site.

3) Make sure the pharmacy requires a prescription, your medical history, and your doctor’s contact information. Legitimate pharmacies require a prescription from a doctor who has seen you in person. Your online pharmacy should require that an original prescription be sent to it via the mail, faxed directly from your doctor’s office, or be verified by a telephone conversation with your physician’s office. An online pharmacy that does not require prescriptions is breaking the law and cannot be trusted to put your well-being first. While it may be tempting to skip a doctor’s visit and order directly from a no-prescription pharmacy, it is simply not worth the risk. Online Pharmacies Canada is an example of a pharmacy with a good prescription verification and safety policy.

4) Call the pharmacy and ask to speak to a pharmacist or physician. Every Web site should have a brick-and-mortar pharmacy where it fills your prescription, with a registered pharmacist or licensed physician on hand to ensure you receive the correct medication and to answer any questions you might have. If an online pharmacy does not display its location and contact information prominently, go someplace else. Jandrugs is an example of a pharmacy that does it right.

5) Never choose a pharmacy based on a spam solicitation. Legitimate online pharmacies respect your personal and financial privacy. They don’t spam you, sell your information to third parties, or use unencrypted technologies for conducting financial transactions. CanadaDrugs‘s privacy and spam policies are examples of how a good online pharmacy handles these issues.

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