In 2019, pharmaceutical spending accounted for 12.6% of the total health spending in the US. In dollars, that translates to an annual average per-person spending of $1,376. That’s over $500 higher than what folks in Canada spend.
However, safety and legal concerns do exist when it comes to buying medicines online.
To that end, we created this guide listing the top factors to consider when you shop for meds online. Read on to discover how to enjoy safe, legal, and pocket-friendly medication purchases.
1. The Legitimacy of the Online Medication Store
Legitimate online medication stores always require valid prescriptions for prescription (Rx) drugs. It’s the law, so any website that tells you otherwise is likely fake, rogue, or a scam.
For instance, let’s say you need to buy Tirosint for your thyroid hormone deficiency. In this case, you need to provide the drug store a valid prescription issued by your doctor. A reputable medication store won’t dispense Rx drugs like Tirosint without a valid Rx.
A legit online drug store also has a registered pharmacist (RPh) in employ. The RPh must then be available at all times during the store’s business hours. You must also be able to talk to the pharmacist anytime you need help with your prescription.
When you do speak to the RPh, be sure to ask them for their license information. They should give you their complete name as well as their license number. You can then verify the info via your state’s pharmacist or pharmacy license lookup tool.
2. Methods for Uploading Written Prescription for Medication
Most medication stores have a tool that lets you upload your valid Rx online. You only need to scan your doctor’s prescription and then upload it using your computer. You can also take a photo of your Rx using your smartphone or tablet and upload it straight to the site.
However, since not everyone has a scanner or smart device, some drug stores have a fax or mail option. In this case, you can still buy your prescription meds online, but you need to fax or mail your Rx to the store first. The store can then start processing your purchase once they receive your Rx.
Another option is to have your doctor provide the store with your Rx. This way, your doctor can also help you assess the legitimacy of the drug store.
3. Easy-to-View Pricing Options for Medication
Reputable online medication stores also have tools for comparing medication prices. For example, most have search tools that show all available options and prices of a drug. Aside from the name and the price, the tools also display dosages and quantities.
Take advantage of those tools to see if a higher quantity can save you more. In most cases, it will, as you’ll buy them in bulk, after all. This is a legal practice so long as the drug has a 90-day supply restriction.
4. Availability of Generic Drug Versions
One of the safest and most effective ways to cut medication costs is to switch to generics. Generic drugs can cost around 30% to 95% less than their brand-name counterparts. Yet, despite their lower prices, they’re just as safe and effective as the branded ones.
What’s more, generic medications are available for most prescription and over-the-counter drugs. So, if you need both Rx and OTC meds, you’d want to go with an online drug store that carries both.
5. Discounts and Money-Saving Deals
Just like any business, online drug stores also run promotions to attract customers. Coupons, ranging from $5 to $20 discounts, are some of the most popular. Many of these are for specific medications, but others apply to total orders.
Another typical money-saving deal is free shipping, usually given to new customers. Now, keep in mind that shipping fees often cost about $10, so if you can get free shipping, you get to save $10.
Some online medication stores also provide incentives through referral programs. For example, a successful referral may give you free shipping toward your next order. Other stores may have cash incentives, such as a $20 or $25 discount on your next purchase.
6. Return and Exchange Policies
Before you pay for your orders, be sure to review the drug store’s return and exchange policies. For starters, some pharmacies and suppliers have strict no-returns rules. One reason is that it’s difficult to guarantee a drug’s integrity once it has left a pharmacy.
As such, those pharmacies don’t allow returns to avoid safety complications.
However, some stores still permit returns for a short period, such as one to two weeks. Still, you must have good reason to return the product, such as if the store dispensed the wrong item. In such cases, the seller may accept the product and exchange it for the correct one.
7. The Website’s Safety and Security Protocols
According to a 2020 study, one in five data breach incidents target the health care sector. In 2019 alone, such cybercrimes exposed 31.6 million health care records. There are also estimates that each health care data breach affects an average of 40,000 people.
For those reasons, it’s crucial to buy your meds only from a highly secure website. A secure website, in turn, uses SSL encryptions to ensure the safety of patient data.
You can check a site’s security by looking for a lock icon at the start of the website’s address. If there’s a closed lock, it means that the site uses secure encryption. The address itself should also begin with HTTPS and not just HTTP.
Stay Safe and Savvy When Purchasing Medication Online
Purchasing medication online is easier and more convenient than in-store buying. However, it does have risks, such as the existence of fake pharmacies. There are also cyber threats, which may put your personal and financial data at risk.
So, for your safety, be sure to factor in all the considerations outlined in this guide. This way, you can stay safe, secure, and healthy while enjoying lower-cost drugs.
Ready for more insights on health, well-being, and saving money? Then head over to our site’s other categories for the latest on these topics!