325 billion dollars probably sounds like an impossible amount of money to you. Believe it or not, that’s the amount that the American people spend to get their hands on pharmaceuticals every year.
There are a lot of factors that play into those high drug prices. Manufacturer greed, regulations, and money-hungry pharmacies are among the top culprits.
To rectify that last issue (pharmacies) many Americans are choosing to break away from their local drug stores and are now buying their medications online. While online drug shopping can be a big win for convenience and savings, it can also be dangerous.
To make sure that the online pharmacy that you choose to go with is legitimate, follow these vetting steps:
- Understand Local Laws
Every time you peek at the news, you’re inundated with stories about how much Americans saved by ordering their drugs overseas. While it’s true that you can save money by buying drugs internationally, doing so is probably illegal.
You can read more about the shipping of controlled substances internationally on the Justice Department’s website. If you’re unsure as to whether or not purchasing a certain drug from a particular online pharmacy is okay, talk to a lawyer before buying.
- Read Online Reviews
As you would before doing business with any new place, we recommend looking carefully at reviews before buying from an online pharmacy.
When considering reviews, don’t go off of feedback that’s featured on a pharmacy’s website. These reviews can be faked and even if they’re real, only reflect guests who have had a positive experience.
Review aggregators like Yelp and Google should be able to provide you with a non-biased picture of the pharmacy that you’re considering. If you can’t find any information on either of those two platforms, try Facebook.
An online pharmacy that has no online reviews isn’t worth engaging with.
- Check For Proper Licensure
Pharmacies that operate in the United States need to be licensed and have to be selling approved drugs. Drug approvals are handled by the FDA and pharmacy approvals are carries out by the NABP.
The NABP is the domestic pharmaceutical governing body that’s in charge of pharmacy regulations. Since 1999, the NABP has had a stringent, 17-point approval process that all online pharmacies need to pass in order to distribute drugs. All pharmacies that make the grade are given a VIPPS logo they can display on their website.
If you don’t see a VIPPS logo on a pharmacy’s website, you can find out if they’re approved by looking at this list.
- Beware of Too Good to Be True Prices
The pharmaceutical industry is tightly regulated. That means that taxes and fees are imposed on drugs that inventively drive up their costs. When people sell pharmaceuticals illegally, they can slip these regulations which allows them to offer drugs to consumers at much lower prices.
If you’re seeing drugs that you buy for $100.00 being offered for under $10.00 that should be a red flag for you. It’s important to note that there’s a difference between when you visit this page and see reasonably low prices versus when you go to other fly-by-night company pages and find prices that you absolutely can’t believe.
Too good to be true drug prices could at best mean that somebody is selling illegally or at worst mean that your pharmacist is peddling fake and dangerous products.
- Talk to Your Insurance Provider
This tip doesn’t apply to those that pay their prescription costs out of pocket.
If you do rely on an insurer to subsidize your medication though, call them up before making a purchase. They will let you know immediately if they’ll cover medications that are bought from a particular pharmacy or if they won’t due to legitimacy concerns.
- Ensure That the Pharmacy Requires Prescriptions
Every legal online pharmacy will require a doctor’s prescription for controlled substances.
If you’re able to get to the end of your drug’s checkout process and nobody has asked you to present them with proof of your doctor’s recommendation, don’t place your order.
- Read Privacy Policies
Your medical health data is something that should be rigorously protected. It leaking could cause employer discrimination, insurance denial and a number of other lifestyle issues.
Not only are these pharmacies not HIPPA complaint (which is illegal) but their whole business model might be built around selling you cheap drugs for your information and then reselling your information to make up the difference on their discounted pharmaceuticals.
The online pharmacy revolution has brought a lot of positive change to healthcare. It has also caused people problems in the way of data leaks and in the way of circulating dangerous fake medications.
Be skeptical when shopping for medications online. Apply the tips that we shared to help you determine what’s safe and what isn’t. And remember, if you’re unsure, don’t buy.
For more tips on how to save money on the things that matter most to you, read more of the newest content that we have up on our blog!