Are online pharmacies a safe way to get prescription medication? 

Online pharmacies are growing in popularity. They can be a cheaper alternative in some cases, and they can also offer a convenient service for people with busy schedules. 

So, is it safe to get prescription medication from an online pharmacy? According to the FDA, it is safe, but it’s important to be cautious and ensure it is a legitimate pharmacy. 

Over the years, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has examined the industry and found that some are unsafe, as they claim to sell prescription drugs at heavily discounted prices, sometimes without even needing them to be signed off by a pharmacist or doctor. 

Although it can save the customer money, some online pharmacies are known to sell counterfeit, unapproved, or unsafe medication, often imitating other licensed pharmacies. 

By using an unlicensed service, shoppers aren’t covered by the usual safeguards, regulations, and safety standards that licensed pharmacies are legally required to follow. 

What are the risks? 

There are a number of risks associated with buying medication from an unlicensed, unsafe pharmacy. For example, the medication could have too much or too little of the active ingredient. It might not have the active ingredient at all, or contain ingredients that aren’t listed. 

If the company isn’t a legitimate pharmacy, it won’t need to follow regulations, like needing a doctor’s prescription for prescription medication or having a licensed pharmacist available to discuss the treatment and answer any questions. 

How to stay safe

Some online pharmacies are safe and legitimate, so it’s important that consumers are able to recognize the difference. Here are some warning signs that the pharmacy isn’t safe: 

  • It isn’t a licensed and approved pharmacy that’s registered by a medical board 
  • The pharmacy is offering medication without a prescription (when it usually needs one) 
  • The pharmacist offers discounts that seem too good to be true
  • Medication arrives in broken or damaged packaging, is expired or hasn’t got an expiration date, is in a foreign language, or just looks different than usual
  • The company doesn’t have any licensed pharmacists to answer questions 
  • It does not provide clear written statements about how your personal data is protected 

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