How to Appraise Legitimate Online Pharmacy Websites

majority of e-pharmacies

How to Appraise Legitimate Online Pharmacy Websites

The high cost of medicine in various countries has pushed most citizens, especially patients in need of specialized treatment into using online pharmacies. In America, for example, it is estimated that similar medicament from across the border in Mexico can be up to 80% cheaper than American drugs. While it is cheaper and convenient to access medication from any part of the world through the Internet, health professionals, the public, and governments have raised concerns over dangers such transactions pose to consumers. The vast majority of e-pharmacies are not legitimate, and possibly sell drugs not fit for human consumption.

Main concerns and risks

The following are some of the major concerns and risks related to the safety and efficacy of drugs purchased online.

  • Some online pharmacies don’t adhere to ethics and will proceed and send substituted, counterfeit or expired medication to their unsuspecting customers.
  • There is no guarantee that the said pharmacy is indeed from the said country. For example, some may purport to be from a country like Canada, knowing pretty well that countries such as the USA and the UK, trust products from there. However, upon placing an order and final delivery of the drug, it is discovered that they actually originated from another country, say China or India. Furthermore, such drugs are usually fake and not fit for use.
  • It is possible for children and minors to directly order controlled substances from sellers across the globe without necessarily consulting their parents.
  • There are concerns about confidentiality of the patients’ health and personal information which might be compromised before, during and after shipment of the drugs.
  • Improper packaging and unconducive storage conditions of the drugs during transit may actually affect their effectiveness and even pose health risks.
  • The sale of subscription-only drugs by online pharmacies may harm users. There are also risks of wrong prescriptions or usage instructions.

The above risks and concerns are not conclusive. However, with the increased utilization of internet pharmacies, there is no doubt that there are also many advantages that buyers enjoy.

majority of e-pharmacies

Main advantages

  1. Affordable medicine: Just as mentioned, medicines from abroad can be way cheaper than whatever is sold locally. This offers patients an opportunity to save some money by opting for cheap online options.
  2. Variety:There are varieties of similar medicines from different countries that may have similar active and inactive ingredients, equally effective but sold under different brand names. These drugs can be way cheaper if sourced from elsewhere than buying them from the local pharmacy. You will choose the version you like without restrictions.
  3. Discounts and offers: Competition is rife online, and pharmacies try to outdo each other selling their products. There are various discounts, coupons and offers that buyers can take advantage of to save big in their purchases.
  4. Convenient: You don’t have to leave your home to search for a dispensing pharmacy. You can order your drugs from the comfort of your home and have it delivered to your doorsteps.

How then do you ensure that the website you are buying from is legitimate and the medicine they sell online is safe? It doesn’t matter how thorough your health regulatory bodies such as FDA in America are, there is no way they can control what is done in other countries. To avoid disappointments, it is important to consider the following.

How to buy safe medicine from online pharmacy websites

  1. Legitimacy: While it is not easy to determine a fake and legitimate online pharmacy, there are some pointers that you can watch out for. For example, legal businesses like will not shy away from sharing their licenses and suppliers, complete with their contacts on their home pages. You can follow this through by calling the contacts before eventually buying. Some countries issue specific symbols as proof that the business is legitimate and verified by the authorities.
  2. Ingredients: Before buying and using medicine ordered online, it is paramount that you confirm their ingredients. This might be tricky because the labels can equally be misleading, but a clear scrutiny should be able to show you if indeed it is the right medicine for the intended use. This is especially important for approved generic versions of drugs from other countries.
  3. Verify their origin: Did you order medicine from a website claiming to be based in Mexico online for the shipment to arrive from India? Well, there are many websites that only act as middlemen for other pharmacies, but it is only ethical that such information be disclosed prior to purchase.
  4. Seek a prescription: While it is very important that you pay close attention to where you buy your medication from, it is equally paramount that you get a prescription from a doctor for prescription-only drugs. Some people opt for online pharmacies to avoid a trip to the doctor, save on consultation fees and related inconveniences. However, there is no harm in sharing with your doctor your plans to purchase the medicine from overseas. In fact they can suggest better sellers and verify if the medicine is suitable for consumption before you use.
  5. Not all generics are good: Generic medicines are very popular, and for equally good reasons – they are effective and cheaper than the originals. However, not all generics are good. Only buy those that are approved for use by the relevant authorities. Confirm that indeed the drug you ordered is what is delivered because it has been noted that some pharmacies replace brand-name medicines with others and sell at the same prices as the originals.
  6. Professionalism:Does the website care about your health? Do they ask for some information about your health, especially a prescription in case you order drugs that require one? Are they only interested in you adding the drugs to the cart and checking out? There are some telltale signs that can help you determine how professional the website is run and if they care about the health of the consumers. Is there a qualified pharmacist to guide you through the dosage or is it just a layman?


There are many other safety measures that you can put in place to avoid dealing with fraudulently run online pharmacies.


There are many websites that run duly licensed and valid businesses and therefore you really don’t have to worry about transacting business with them. Ideally, stick with those pharmacies that have physical walk-in stores in your country and conduct due diligence. This way, you will not only get access to world-class medicines, but also save money.

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